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Chiang Rai, Chiang Khong, Houixai, Boat to Pakbeng, Luang Prabang; Nong Kiau (Muang Ngoy Mai), Muang Ngoy Kao (11 - 17 April 2008)
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A village on Nam Ou river: Muang Ngoy to Nong Kiaw
The earth ladder from the boat landing to the village houses was visible from a distance. But the houses were not seen clearly until our boat came close to the village. We could imagine people of this small settlement on Nam Ou river bank must be fishermen, farmers, part time hunters, carpenters, and boat man - one or all of these. It would be very much life enriching if small group of responsible tourists can stay and learn things from them; not often but like once in a couple of months.
The trail from Nong Kiau to Ban Had Sao village
While staying in Nong Kiau I took one afternoon for a walk to Ban Had Sao, the village about 1/2 hour walk along upstream Nam Ou river. There were teak tree plantation in the begining and later it entered into bushland with some rocky hillside. Then came the open fields and the village.
Ban Had Sao village
The simple village was made up of 50 plus houses. As in other villages there were paddy fields, vegetable and some wild fruits, chicken, duck, cows and buffalos. They did have a primary school at the end of the village. From there Muang Ngoy Kao could be reached in 2 days, or 3 days if ones wanted to explore more, passing 5 villages in between. The trail was said to be not difficult. Protection from leeches such as leech socks would be necessary if you walk in the wet season.
The way back to Nong Kiau
When I walked back to Nong kiau riverside the afternoon sun was going down behind the hills. It was just 4:30 p.m. and I had plenty of time. Some villagers came back home from the work in the vegetable farm or from fishing. A couple was carrying some fire wood. The foot path before me took me to the river bank and then, well before the sunset, I was back in the small town with the bridge.
Morning view of the bridge and Nong Kiau under the mist
Nong Kiaw straddles both sides of Nam Ou river. On the western side were boat pier, post office, market and the bus station. On the eastern side were more guesthouses and more restaurants. Pha Tok cave is only 2.5 km to the east of the town beside the road.
People carrying water on a push cart for home use.
On my second day there was water shortage at some part of the town. Taps were drying or not working. People went to the road side water taps to collect water.
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