Day 14: We woke this morning to an overcast day, with mist sitting low on the mountains and a temperature of only 27C – perfect weather for hiking. Water buffalo were splashing about in the water below our balcony, and the first boats were starting to make their way along the river.
After a superb breakfast of fruit, egg, bread, sweet waffle, crepe, french bread and pancake – everything came on one plate, and we scoffed the lot – we set off on a long walk along quiet dirt roads through the countryside.
The first stop was at Tham Kang cave, which was used as a bomb shelter during the Vietnam War time, protecting local villagers. After paying our entrance fee of 10,000 Kip each (around $2) we walked up the slippery steps and explored the entrance and first section of the cave. It’s possible to walk further in, but as we only had a small flashlight and the rocks were incredibly slippery, we decided to give exploring further a miss.
Then we continued our walk through the most glorious countryside with rolling green hills, taking in the fresh air and unspoilt scenery, and watching locals tending rice and other crops in the fields. We passed lots of water buffalo, cows and lots of cute pigs too.
We wandered through the first village, Ban Na – a tiny little place with a small shop and a couple of guesthouses (closed due to low season). Every local that we passed was incredibly friendly, all smiling and calling out ‘Sabaidee’. Such lovely people.
We kept walking for a while, then took a detour in the road to a small village called Ban Huaybor – which has no electricity, phone or internet – it’s really interesting to see the villagers going about their daily lives with no connections to the outside world. Jim took the opportunity to cool off under their freezing cold rainwater tap.
While we were exploring the village, a heavy rain shower started. We jumped under the cover of the village square, where a primary school class was taking place and a lady was weaving baskets – everyone was very welcoming and happy for the foreigners to sit and join them.
We continued the walk back to Muang Ngoi (our total distance was 20km), and spent a while catching up on reading and napping, before heading out to dinner at a local Indian and Lao restaurant. While eating dinner, we also enjoyed a spot of people and tractor watching. 🙂
Tonight heavy storms continue across the mountains and valleys – as we write the rain is crashing down on the tin roof above our heads.
Tomorrow we catch the boat back to Nong Khiaw for a day, then on to Muang Xai the following day. Lots of planning to do.