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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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The road: Luang Prabang to Nong Kiau
The road: Luang Prabang to Nong Kiau (Nong Kiaw) or Muang Ngoy Mai

The 3+ hours public mini bus ride from Luang Prabang to Nong Kiau passes villages, farms, teakwood plantation and it is with no shortage of beautiful nature scenery. At Pak Mong the road forks into two: one to the west to Udomxai and the one to the east to Nong Kiaw.

Boat landing at Nong Kiau
Boat landing at Nong Kiau

Nong Kiaw boat landing is where people find boats to go down Nam Ou river to Luang Prabang, or go upstream to Muang Ngoi Kao (Old Muang Ngoy). Down to Luang Prabang is about 6 hours journey, and the trip to Muang Ngoy is just one hour.

In the boat to Muang Ngoy
In the boat to Muang Ngoy

Inside the small boat (without toilet) you get small wood chair to sit below the low roof. One boat may take about 20 plus passengers. On my trip there were more foreigners than the local Lao people in the boat.

Nong Kiau bridge
Nong Kiau bridge over Nam Ou river

Beautiful! Yes, everyone in the boat agreed. Nong Kiau bridge spanning over Nam Ou river links Udomxai (Udomxai province) and Xing Neua in Houa Phan province, without taking the long detour via Luang Prabang.

Riding over a small white water
Riding over a small white water on Nam Ou river

The boatman raised the engine power, and in next few seconds we were riding the rapid. We heard the sounds of boat bottom hitting and dragging on the rocks. Half minute later it was over and we were in the safe waters again. People in the boat clapped to cheer the boat man in excitement.

Buffalos in water
Buffalos in water

The scenes on this part of Nam Ou river are somewhat similar to those on Hin Boun river in the central-southern Laos. The difference is the limestone cliffs in the southern Laos are almost 90 degree vertical from the valley between. Here the mountains are more friendly for trekkers. The smaller size of water body, and thus closeness of village life you can witness from the boat, relatively cleaner water than Mekong river are the same.

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