The beautiful tropics
03.10.2012 - 13.10.2012 34 °C
Entering Laos took us into the tropics (and out of China!) It was hot, humid and sticky, I loved it. We spent most of our 10 days in the country (having been there for a month previously) in the north east, a gently mountainous area covered in thick jungle. Each morning would be misty and the hills would steam until the afternoon as the clouds slowly evaporated off. Wherever there was flat land there were rice paddies, right at the point of harvest, which meant they were as tall and green as they would ever be. Waving fields of luminous green. Gorgeous, I couldn't get enough of them. Such a wonderful contrast to our last trip in Laos which was at a different time of year when the rice paddies were just brown mud.
We did a few days hiking through the jungle, staying in the village of the local hill tribe. There is only one good word to describe walking in the jungle - moist. We got soaked through and both had our blood sucked by the numerous leaches. It was so damp and humid. But that led to the comical experience of having a wash at the communal tap in the village we stayed in. As etiquette required, I maintained my modesty by wearing a sarong. Dan however, was able to wear just a pair of shorts. And by the reaction he got, I don't reckon the locals had ever seen a skinny white chest before!
Moving south we travelled by local wooden river boats over three days, down the Nam Ou river. The odd rapid would get everyone excited, and those at the front of the boat wet (we learnt fast, always heading to the back seats). The scenery started out rural, little villages perched high on the river bank, locals washing in the river, water buffalo floating in the water with just their heads and horns poking out. After a while green jungle clad krasts - jagged limestone mountains - did a spectacular job of dominating the scenery. We spent four days of bliss in a timeless village in this setting.
The village, Muang Ngoi Neua, has no roads in it or to it. The bougainvillea and village temple provide bright splashes of colour in amongst the wooden and bamboo homes. We lazily spent the time hanging in our hammocks watching the villages go about life on the river and the cloud slowly lift each morning to reveal a dramatic krast background. We managed to fit in an afternoon walking through a sea of green rice paddies and finished off every day chewing the fat with other travellers during happy hour at Riverside Bar and Restaurant. It had a ridiculously extensive cocktail list considering the size and remoteness of the village, but once we got a taste of Riverside Number 3, there was no need to diversify.
There is something so charming and alluring about the developing world in the tropics. Travel in Laos was uncomplicated pleasure.