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muang ngoi

LAOS | Tuesday, 23 December 2008 | Views [793]

pretending to eat a catch fish, if only i knew later i would be!

pretending to eat a catch fish, if only i knew later i would be!

we got our bus in the morning for nong khiaw. It was a tidy mini bus with flowers on the seats and it was full. We arrive quite early and karline got confused as it had signs in nong khiaw, that it was muang ngoi. So she was wondering if we were there already. But from my guide book it said that nong khiaw was the old muang ngoi and the new one was up the river accessible by boat only. Karline and I went to the toilet leaving gias to mind the bags. While we were away, gias met another dutch guy and from him we learned that there was a boat leaving for muang ngoi for 2 O. clock. We just about had time for a quick lunch before we needed to head for the boat. There wasn't any need to rush though as it took forever for it to get going. It was Laos after all. So about 20 people got crammed into a long tail boat. The journey itself was quite nice, the scenery was beautiful. You hear about karst mountains in north Vietnam and in south Thailand. But I didn't hear about it for Laos and I think it was nicer here. Well except for ninh binh, that was still nicer and the weather was colder so the top of the mountains were covered in mist. The sun did eventually burn though it at some stage during the day but the evenings and mornings were quite cold and misty.

By the time we got to muang ngoi, it was about 3 O. clock and it was starting to get cold already. As the sun was setting behind the mountains even if it wasn't getting totally dark yet. I watched the bags while gias and karline went to go find us accommodation. It took them forever and of course I couldn't go anywhere as I had 3 big bags and 3 small bags to keep an eye on. The night before karline and I went off looking for rooms, I wonder if we were gone as long then.

Anyway they came back and we got a couple of bungalows facing the river with only electricity from 6 to 10 at night and cold water shower. It reminded me of don det without the warm weather, with hammocks and everything. We went to the restaurant attached for dinner. We ordered spring rolls first and gias and karline showed me a card game called shithead. The spring rolls were the best I had and the card game was good fun. So for the rest of the evening we sat and played cards and order our dinner of coconut curry. We ended up being frozen as the temperature must have dropped really far down and it sent us rushing for our beds.

The next morning, we all decided we were taking it easy while we were there. We were still exhausted from the gibbon experience and still hadn't really caught up on our rest.

At breakfast we saw a sign for a 3 days, 2 night paddle boat trip to luang prabang. It actually sounded really cool. So we enquired about it and got the price for it, which would be 600 kip for the 3 of us. We said we would think on it and we headed off to have a look around the village. Over lunch we decided we would go for the boat trip, we thought that the experience we would get on it was worth the money. So while we were wandering around the village we ended up buying a what I would have called a Vietnam hat. But they had them here in Laos also. I thought it was funny that I went all through Vietnam twice and never bought one of the hats thinking I would never get it home and then I bought one in Laos

We went back to our hosts and said we would do the boat trip and then we were told that the driver/tour guide couldn't do the 3 days, only 2 days and on the last day he would use a motor. And it was going to be the same price. We said we had to talk on it again and went back to our rooms.

I went back to my bungalow and sat in my hammock. I ended up falling asleep for awhile and when I woke up, I just hang out here. The daughter of the owner was hanging around and I ended up playing with her. She was eating milo on a saucer and ended up feeding me some of it with her spoon. I still had some veggie fruits left over from muang sing so I offered a couple to her. Which she seemed delighted with. She also started playing a game with me, pretending to throw it away but keeping it in her pocket and she thought it was great that I was wandering around looking for it when she still had it.

She ended up climbing into my hammock and I took the one beside her. I then started to pretend I was asleep and started to snore. She started to copy me and she was falling all over the place laughing. I was laughing too but I was laughing at her laughing. It was a real tummy laugh.

She got called away by her mother and I went over to gias and karline to talk about the boat trip. They still wanted to do it. I did too but the price was to much for only 2 days instead of 3. so we thought that if we could get money off it we would still go for it. So we went to our host again and told him. He said he would find out for us if it was OK.

We ordered some spring rolls again. They were just too good and played cards. Karline and I decided to go for this herbal sauna that we saw earlier that day. It was cold out and to get warm sounded good. We left gias at the restaurant and headed off to it. It was really dark and when we got to the sauna it didn't get much brighter. The lights there were crap. There also wasn't any light in the steam room. We were left to take off our clothes and put this sarong on. We then went to go into the room I was first, I opened the door and I tried to edge in past the curtain that was hanging in front of the door when you open it, but there seemed to be this big step to get in. I went to step onto it but it was huge. Karline said lets get the candle that was left out on the table. So I got the candle and went back to the door. The candle didn't help much as the steam was so thick, I still had this big step in the way. So I got myself on top of it and it wobbled a bit. And karline goes, oh its the seat there isn't anything here. And she walks straight in past the seat that i'm standing on. Fool me.

I only felt right inside the door if I had moved further right a bit I would have noticed there was space to walk in.

we settled ourselves in and sweated. It was really nice as it was cold enough outside. And there was no way I was taking a cold shower. So even if I just sweated it was good enough for me. Since it was a herbal sauna there was some smoke there also from the herbs that were being burned. Which stung my eyes a little but it was OK. Karline and I had a good chat inside and after awhile we went outside to cool down and have some tea that they provided. And then we went back in for the last time. Afterwards we came out and asked for hot water. The guy came and poured boiling water into a basin for us. We cooled it down a bit with cold water that was beside it and we were able to have a hot shower by pouring the water over us with a pail. It was a far cry from the cold pail showers I had in Vietnam This was so much better. I felt warm and refreshed, it was brilliant.

On the way back we stopped at a place that said would do a fishing trip for the day up the river. We were thinking of doing a fishing trip if the paddling didn't work out. When we got back to gias it was later than we thought it was, time flies when your nice and warm.

We ordered our dinner and we asked about the boat trip again as we still hadn't heard anything back yet on if we could do it. And if we couldn't we wanted to do this fishing trip. So in the end we were told to be up for 8 in the morning and if we couldn't go paddling he had someone who could bring us on the fishing trip. So one way or another we were doing something the next day. So after dinner and playing shithead for awhile. We headed to bed so we could be up in time.

The next morning we met at breakfast, waiting to hear what we were going to be doing. We had a feeling we weren't going to be able to do our boat trip as the guy who was suppose to do it, we heard the night before something like his grandmother was sick. And we were right. It didn't work out. We also wanted to head down to nong khiaw that afternoon after the fishing trip to stay the night as we were hoping to get the slow boat the next morning to luang prabang. If we couldn't paddle there we would take the next best thing.

So before we headed off on our trip we checked out of our rooms and left our bags with our host. We were introduced to our guide and we were brought off down the village. On the way we picked up another guy that was coming with us. Who we found out in the end was actually the guide as he steered the boat and caught the most fish but didn't have as much English.

We were put on to a small long tail boat with the English speaking guide in the back and then gias, karline and me. The last guy was in the front and I didn't notice that he was steering the boat till late in the day when the other guy was gone. He had these ropes on either side of him that ran back the length of the boat and seemed to steer and control the strength of the engine some how.

We were a little afraid that the day was going to be cold with the mist hanging over the mountains till late in the day. But we were really lucky and the sun broke through the early and we ended up having a fabulous day.

We started up the river in the boat passing these karst mountains on either side of us it was just beautiful and the water was clear unlike the mekong river were its nice and muddy and filthy looking. We stopped several times on our way for the guys to get out and fish with nets. There was two different kinds of nets. The driver had a drift net that he let out into the water and it drifted with the current on the river a bit. And these little fish were getting stuck into the net. He was pulling them out and breaking their necks and killing them so they didn't flop about and we had to get a plastic bag to put them in as he was catching so many of them. The other guy had a throw net, were he waded slowly in the water as it was so shallow and when he saw some fish he would throw it hoping to catch some. This guys method didn't seem to work as well, but I also think think it was for bigger fish. The last time we stopped to fish, gias was giving the chance to throw the net a few times and he did it really well. I think that if it doesn't work out for him being a doctor he could become a fisherman. He even caught a fish in his last throw. Our guide was really impressed and said that he was very lucky. He ended up catching what looked like some kind of blow fish. Cause when the guide took the fish out of the net and started rubbing it on the belly the fish blew up like a ball. It was really cool.

After that we were bought to a village up the river, were we bought some flashlights for the caves we were going to go see as we forgot to take ours with us. I remember that our host said something like we could be brought into caves but I didn't associate it with being dark also. Karline and I also bought scarfs off the ladies there. As we felt that it was better to buy off them then to buy in the shops as the money would go straight to them instead. We were told that their village was actually a new one as their old village was destroyed by a flash flood about 10 year before further up the river. When we were leaving the village they had steps down to their beach by the river, but the steps stopped over this cliff drop that could be really dangerous. if you weren't looking where you were walking and kept going you could really hurt yourself. I pointed it out to our guide and he said that in wet season the water actually came up that high. So it just showed me how little water was in the river right then. So to get down to where our boat was, there was a slope to the left that curved down to the beach, that wouldn't be there during the wet season.

We were then brought to the cave. We moored our boat and we had to walk inland a little to get to the opening of the cave. When we found it we could feel this wind coming out of it. The way in was small enough and quite steep and we ended up only having two flashlights, as I bought one and gias and karline bought one. So the guides took one each and were guiding us down in the caves with just two lights. Our driver went in first and then gias and me. And the other guide and karline came behind us. Our guide would go first and then turn around and shine the light back so we could see where we were going. And we were doing this all the way down. Just as we were near the bottom and to safety, I of course slipped.

My foot went into a hole, my body turned around and I was falling backwards. And since I couldn't see properly and I was falling into a hole I didn't know how far I was going to fall for. I was in this hole one foot in, the one that slip, one foot still up on the ledge, the one that didn't slip. And I was sitting there like I was in a tube. My arms were out on either side of me on the edges of the hole holding me up out of it. At least it wasn't deep. Both guides came running over to me to help me out of the hole asking me if I was OK. Bringing me over to safety and checking to see if I had any wounds. I actually OK., I was shucked up for the fall, and my wounds were a few scratches and bruises that I could see already. The worst one was on my elbow as I had taken the skin away. It was stinging but it wasn't too bad but it didn't help when one of the guides decided to brush off any dirt and rock dust with his fingers. Aow.

But we continued on. We were at the bottom of the cave and we thought that was it. But no, we were to climb through this small gap to get through to the next cave. Well I say climb but it was more crawl through this little space. And it was a feat with only 2 flashlights, especially gias isn't a small guy. But it was worth it. There was some lovely stalagmites and stalactites. But it didn't stop there. There was another one we had to walk down to and we had to be careful as the ground was quite slippy. When we got to that one they wanted us to keep going, and I would have but karline didn't want to go any further and since we all came in together we all had to leave to together. I really didn't mind leaving the caves. I think I was still a bit shook up over the fall I had. And at least it was easier to get out than it was to get in.

when we were on our way back to the boat our guide crushed some kind of leave from a plant and put it on my elbow. Local medicine. It stung at first. But after while it felt OK. and actually stuck to my elbow, so at least I wasn't going to get anymore dirt into it.

It was then time for lunch and we stopped off at a rock ledge on the way back. Where they made a fire to bbq our fish. We watched them as they made the fire and then as they made bbq spits from bamboo with the fish. And we watched our fish cook over the fire. Now if you know me, you also know I don't eat fish, so I was just planning on eating the sticky rice that they had brought with them.

But when the fish was done and I was eating my rice, I was offered some fish from one of the guides. I tried to say no but it was really rude not to at least try it. So I took the fish off him. Now the fish were quite small so there was no gutting and taking the skin off. So you eat the fish skin and all taking care that you still removed the bones out. And it wasn't too bad. It wasn't really fishy and it had this nice bbq taste. But still diluted the taste by eating it with the rice.

Then they brought out the Lao Lao. Which is the Laos rice wine. Very close to its cousins. It was half one in the afternoon and we were doing shots of Lao Lao. In the end I think we had about 5 shots of it, gias maybe a little bit more being a guy and well we were merry afterwards to say the least. A little giddy on the boat on the way back to the village, were we picked up our bags and we paid our driver a little bit more to bring us down the river to nong khiaw.

The journey down was really nice and peaceful, and it beat being stuck in a boat with 15 other people. When we arrived to nong khiaw, we got ourselves a bungalow each for the evening and we noticed in the village that there was a movie house, where we could have a room and watch a DVD. So after dinner we decided to go and watch a movie. Only we couldn't decided what to watch as we had all seen different things and had different tastes. Since it was nearly Christmas, even though it didn't feel like it, we decided on a Christmas movie. But the only one they had was love actually. So that what we ended up watching. But we had problems from the start. First Hugh grant sounded like a smurf, then we changed rooms and the TV was all green. Not good to see a red heart all green. We then went back to the first room and we turned off the surround sound and we got it working. We were just getting to the good parts and it started too skip. At this stage we just had enough, we were tired and still a little drunk from the Lao Lao so we just walked out and went to bed. No way were we paying for that. And We were off to luang prabang in the morning for Christmas.

Tags: fishing, muang ngoi


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