The plan today was to catch a boat upstream to a small town called Muang Khoua. Our maps tell us there are roads leading out towards Luang Namtha and we would do that in 3 or 4 days. He boats were leaving at 11 so, it was a leisurely start to the day. I had a slow b’fast at the Indian cafe, called “chennai restaurant” which is right across from the more popular deen’s. The omelette was alright and the egg thosai was not what I’d call traditional, but pretty decent too.
We caught up with Lindsay and Josh (American), backpackers who are hunting out remote areas for travel and chatted with them. Thomas and Manuela joined us and after the brekkie, we packed up and headed for the boat.
We tried our negotiation skills, but still got a stiff 160,000 kip ride with the bikes. It’s a shame they charge extra for bikes when they do carry 50 kg do rice free for the locals and big backpacks for other tourists. The first bit was too crowded and I couldn’t find a space to fit inside the boat, I hung out near the engine under the hot sun, so much for paying top dollar for a ride. Ah well.
The first stop was Muang Ngoi which is very developed for tourism with a lot if guest houses and seemingly good infrastructure for tourism, it’s still away from the beaten path and very few tourists visit this part I reckon. Once all the tourists got off the boat, it was just us and a bunch of locals trying to find their way home. The ride up river was slow and the packed boat was pretty uncomfortable to sit in. It was intensely hot in the day and at 3 pm or so, the sun mellowed down. With the locals getting off along the way, here was more space to stretch the legs and relax.
The river route was beautiful with big hills, cliff faces, farmlands and some good forests lining the water. Occasional villages pass by with kids swimming buck naked in the cool river. It was a pretty ride for sure. Almost felt like I was back canoeing in the whanganui, heh. Similar scenery but a lot cheaper. I was thinking it might be a good business idea to setup a canoe service for a 3 day trip down the river. A few rapids make the ride interesting, but otherwise, it would be nice to float downstream on the quiet river with a few beers in tow, heh.
After a long day in the river, all he locals got off and it was just the 4 of us. The sun was setting and we were still cruising slowly. Was a nice sunset to watch from the water and except for the noisy boat, it was beautiful. The last few k’s were really long and finally when we sighted Muang Khoua! The power shut down in town and we docked in pitch darkness.
It was hard finding a spot to sleep in in the dark and after roaming around, myself and Chris ended up at a cheap room near the dock and Thomas & Manuela in a slightly nicer room next door. The dinner was pretty crappy to be honest and I hit the bed soon after. Though there was no cycling, the day was tiring anyway.
Route: Nong Khiaw to Muang Khoua
Distance: 0 km (90 km boat ride)
Ascent: 0 ft
Descent: 0 ft
Time in saddle: 0:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 43.33
Comments: Boat ride is pretty but noisy. Stuffed with people and luggage. The 30,000 kip surcharge for bikes is really unfair.