Nov 052006

Probably my favourite picture of the whole trip – a small girl on the boat to Muang Ngoi Neua, capturing our interaction perfectly :

Despite getting up early considering our travelling, we took a while to have breakfast and stuff so didn’t get the boat until around 11am. Of course we chose to ignore the ticket seller that said there were no boats back after 2pm, I mean how do the locals get back?

We headed off on our own small trek as described in ‘The Book’, the Lonely Planet. We ended up walking past a small cave (didn’t stop – all caved out), rice harvesters, and ended up at the Hoy Bor village – obviously quite well visited as there were signs up along the trail, erected by a couple of enterprising locals. As it was still officially low season we were pleased to walk past only two others on the way, and only cross around 7 tourists in the village. Of course we prompted to eat and drink at the restaurant with no-one else in it, and a selection of food to match. The owners were very interested though and surrounded us, asking us to fill out the guestbook with praise for their place, and to try and coax some visitors in. The balloon trick was used when the kids came up, and before we knew it, Angelica and I had infalted the remainder of the balloon pack, and the village kids were dancing around with multi-coloured balloons lighting up the village. Mothers even came carrying small children asking for balloons for them. I also left one of my postcards behind and pointed where it was on a map.

We had a fantastic time there, staying long enough to know we had sacked off any chance we had to get us back to Nong Khiaw for the night to reacquaint us with our luggage left behind, and the guesthouse owners who maybe wouldn’t even spot we weren’t back, but it was well worth it.

We got back to town just before darkness, had a quick glimpse to see if there were any boats. We had been offered a charter back when we got off earlier, but it would be $20. We rapidly decided that paying $20 for a boat was way too muchover paying $2 for accommodation twice. We secured another $2 accommodation of similar standard, but this time with a hammock on the balcony overlooking the river, and right next to the boat landing. Another night was spent discussing world history and german policymaking with three other complete strangers.

There had been signs for a Muang Ngoi Neua version of a full moon party a local had arranged to ‘help me with my school fees’. When we realised there was a $10 charge for the riverside bonfire and far more on offer ;-> we decided to stay and eat food, as did everyone else who had apparently signed up, as the organisers became our friends for a while. I had already made my mind up that despite paying two times for our accommodation, I had effectively saved $16 by not taking the boat back, and I was determined to drink as much of my saving as I could.

Of course this resulted in me convinced it was a great idea to don my iAudio MP3 player and my jacket and crashing out on the hammock, taking in the scenery with some ‘me time’. That was until I woke up at 1am with a few mosquito bites on my foot and decided I really should go to my real bed.

We caused quite a commotion in the village with the balloons :

Me in a paddy field en route to the village :

The main street of Muang Ngoi Neua – only accessible by boat, so no vehicles :

The view from my hammock :

 Posted by at 9:28 am

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