Muang Ngoi

by Johnny

We did manage to tear ourselves away from Luang Prabang for a couple days to visit Muang Ngoi, a sleepy riverside town only accessible by boat.  Did you know you can fit 14 people in a minivan?  Well, you can in Laos.  Packed like sardines with backpacks on our laps, a four-hour minivan ride brought us to the town of Nong Khiaw, where we caught the boat to Muang Ngoi.  The jaw-dropping scenery and the tiny villages en route almost made us forget that we were sandwiched knee to knee with tourists and locals (one with a live pig in a bamboo basket) in a tiny boat.

Muang Ngoi is pretty rustic.  The town only has limited electricity from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, limited hot water, ice needs to be brought in by boat each morning and roosters are the alarm clock of choice.  It definitely feels like a place lost in time.  We had planned on going on a trek to visit some of the villages in the area, but unfortunately it was raining both days we were there.  Not to worry, as we bought a couple books from a used book store, posted up at a riverside restaurant and spent our days reading, listening to the rain fall and taking in the Land of the Lost-esque scenery, which more than made up for living without the comforts of home for a few days.

Passing fishermen on our way to Muang Ngoi
Our spacious boat ride to Muang Ngoi…anybody know where the life jackets are?
Approaching Muang Ngoi Muang Ngoi’s main street
Gardens down by the river View from our $12 bungalow
Home-made fishing nets
Hand-written menus from a Muang Ngoi restaurant

Another crammed boat ride and torturous minivan ride (this time with live chickens and plastic picnic chairs) brought us back to Luang Prabang.  Two shower free-days in Muang Ngoi coupled with two hectic travel days left me smelling pretty fresh.  Normally I enjoy a little body odor, as it makes me feel macho, but not this time.  I’m not kidding, PowerBait thought I smelled bad.  Good thing we have friends bringing Old Spice reinforcements to Chiang Mai, Thailand in a couple days!

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