Vieng Thong or Off the beaten track

Muang Ngoi Neua is remote according to the guidebook.
There is a constant trickle of tourists from LPB going there and back.
Not a single person we talked to was however travelling onward to Vieng Thong / Sam Neua.
There also is only one daytime minivan on that road that takes up to 10 hours.
That makes it difficult to break it down in smaller junks and you are not sure if there is a place in the bus.
So we where somewhat nervous.
We already had a ticket (from Nong Khiaw) when a guy we already had spoken to in LPB briefly, started to talk to Astrid.
He was a subcontractor for the bus-line from LPB and actually owns the minivan.
Complicated system here. The money you pay seems to go to a least 3 different parties.
That is also why they suddenly try to charge for the AC in the bus.

Anyway, we ended up hiring him and his Van, he had a good price especially for the days that we do nothing. We tried that in LPB but some wanted full price even for day we do not travel. With the kids and our rest days, not a good deal.

We could even get 70% of the ticket price back.
So we went to his village where he collected his belonging and off we went to Vieng Thong.
(By the way, there is no English wikipedia for that village)

Next day we went to the Nam Et/Phou Louey NPA (National protected area) Park office. We thought that we could not go into the park itself. However, Paul and American told us that the night trip is doable with kids and checked the weather. Very good the next 2 days. So we booked.

We then did a track through some forest to old military trenches from two Indochina wars (the Americans had an secret airbase in Viengthong). It turned out to be 2.9 instead of the announced 1.4 km.
Anyway, it ended by some very neat hot springs.

DSC_4797

The water is supposedly 100 Degrees.
We boiled some eggs (not mine).

DSC_4802

The yolk was rigid but the white remained somewhat liquid. Not really 100 after all.

Our private bath.
It is empty when we arrived. One has to fill it. Unfortunately they forgot to add something so that the water does not flow out again. The plastic cup provided did a poor job. So it was difficult to get a temperature not too hot for the kids. Some grass did the trick.
DSC_4807

Nice environment. The public bath is on the right, no entrance fee there.

DSC_4817

Actually written 15.06.2013

Advertisements

Muang Ngoi Neua

Generally we felt the strain from travelling for so long.
After the 12 sick and recovery days in Luang Prabang (LPB)
We finally found some energy and decided to really leave the broad tourist trek and make the (almost) round trip

Luang Prabang – Nong Khiaw – Muang Ngoi Neua – Nong Khiaw – Vieng Thong – Sam Neua – Vieng Xai, Pathet Lao Caves – Phonsavan, Plain of Jars – Vang Vieng – Vientiane.
On looooong and winding roads.

First going to Muaang Ngoi Neua according to the guidebook “even more remote than Nong Khiaw”.
To go there one has to go to Nong Khiaw and then take a boat up the Nam Ou river.
The village only has generator electricity and can only be reached by boat.

Once there we found out you still can get spaghetti but there really are no rooms with AC.
The setting is really really spectacular.

The next day we did an afternoon trip even more upriver, where actually the landscape is best.
DSC_4569_upstreem
If you ever go there, either take a boat downstream to begin with (i.e. not from Nong Khiaw) or make a tour upstream like we did.
We walked from one minority village to another with a local guide that spoke very little English.
DSC_4608_native_village
Always the kids flocked because they were bored I guess:
DSC_4621_Village_kids

This evening we had lunch on a terrace to see the sunset.
DSC_4668_Muang_Ngoi_Neua_Evening

The next day we booked a full day tour to a cave and back through some rougher terrain.
To the caves was along a dirt road, not really interesting. But the caves were great.
Very well hidden and not even a path to go there.
A little river flows through the cave and to get in one has to crawl almost.
The we waded upstream up to knee deep some hundreds of meters. Great.
Lena was piggybacked by one of the guides.
We had a general guide and a local guide. The money has to be spread.
DSC_4674_Cave

Lunch in a village served by the chef of the village in person.
Then it started to rain. And rain. And never stopped.
We were lucky to make it back to the river along the road the mud sticking everywhere. Soaking wet.

The next day we left.

Well. The village got electricity 6 Month ago, the hospital opened 3 days ago and a road is about to reach that village. Soon not so remote anymore.

Actually written 15.06.2013

Mahout Lady

Elephant Village.
2 Day Mahout Training program.
Highlight.

Lena Training
DSC_4125

Lena Mahout
DSC_4143

Ada Mahout
DSC_4183

Astrid Mahout
DSC_4161_Astrid

My hearth stood still
DSC_4204

Relaxing
DSC_4317

Washing
DSC_4389

Feeding
DSC_4412

We are now leaving the confort zone somewhat more and go:
Muang Ngoi Neua – Nong Khiaw – Vieng Thong – Sam Neua – Vieng Xai, Pathet Lao Caves – Phonsavan, Plain of Jars – Vang Vieng – Vientiane
all by public bus

So internet and AC will be rare at places.

LPB

Yes, we are still in Luang Prabang.
After my three girls, one after each other,  I got sick too. Just when I thought I was spared. Now almost recovered. We finally got to do some stuff.

Kuang Si Falls really is a marvel and we saw many waterfalls.

image

We all went swimming.
Searchpicture. Where is papa?

image

Also great are the fish nibbling at the dead skin on the feet.

Hint: black trunks.

We also have some ideas what do do next, just not how.
Travel times het re are long.

Luang Prabang or the Art of doing nothing

We are in Luang Prabang for a couple of days now and did nothing at all.
We first had a hotel somewhat outside of the town.
The room was good but they had no breakfast, not restaurant close by and no cycles or something to rent.
Very inconvenient. We had to change even though Astrid was sick.
Now we are in the middle of the historic district in a very nice hotel.
The even have free bicycles to take, so far we have not used them.
After Astrid Ada got sick and now it is Lena. Fever up to 39 degrees but not much beside. Takes about 2 days.
Ada however now also has a cough.
So we basically spend the day inside playing games, watching TV and occasionally even do some “work” like sorting pictures or writing blogs.
We like it here. Completely unlike the rest we saw in Asia.
Here the main road of the old town “Sakkaline Road” at 14:00
image

We are right beside a cloister. They change and wash their orange robe right below our window.
image

Some Monks are merely 8 years old, kids.
Ada : “wie mached d’Mönche Chind?” (how do monks make kids)
Papa : “wie di andarä lüüt au” (like all the other people). Probably not really what she asked.

Ada : “äs giit ganz vili Wörter mit B : Bonusstange …” (untranslatable)

The art of doing nothing?!
With sick kids we have not mastered that yet.

Lao

Arrived in the last country that was on our first list.

Laos seems to be a spelling mistake that stuck. Official  name, people and language are all just Lao.

What do we do after arriving?

image

Lao actually is my 50th country.
If I counted right.
Will celebrate once Astrid feels a little better.

First Lao impressions.
– No hotel rooms for families. Nobody with kids travelles here?
– Definitively much smaller than anything we did/saw in Asia