Please login to vote.
Monday, 03 May 2010

Moments in Northern Laos: Going Back in Time - Page 3

Written by Bart Drolenga
  • Print
  • Email
  • AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The people of Northern Laos never hurry; the riverboat to the next town slowly fills up. When the boat finally takes off, you experience Asian life as if time stood still. It must have been this way in Thailand 50 years ago; children play in the river while women do their laundry and long tail boats fully packed with merchandise pass by. A trek over mountains through dense rainforest can lead you to tribal villages where people have lived in the same ways for centuries. Northern Laos is a paradise for the adventurous traveler who loves culture and nature.

Ta and I climb down a steep path. Below us lies the Nam Tha River. Children are playing on a bamboo raft. The water level is too low to cross by raft. We take off our shoes and tuck up our trouser legs. Carefully, we wade over the slippery-pebbled riverbed.  On the other side, sitting on rocks along the riverbank, we eat our lunch. Chicken fried rice and vegetable curry.

“Tourists can enjoy mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, camping and they can stay overnight in a home stay in several villages.” Ta says. “A large part of the income is used for the conservation of the forest and for poverty alleviation projects for the villagers.”

Moments in Northern Laos: Going back in time, Northern Laos travel, adventure travel laos, culture and nature travel, Luang Nam Tha, Nam Ha protected area, Akha village, Akha culture, Nam Tha River, Lenten people, Nong Khiaw, Nam Ou River, riverboats, Luang Prabang, markets South East Asia, Wat Manoram temple, Wat Thammothayalan temple, That Chomsi stupa, the Mekong,  Tat Kuang Si waterfalls, Bart DrolengaNong Khiaw is a sleepy little town tucked in by steep mountains on the banks of the Nam Ou River. I am standing at the boat landing. The riverboats for Luang Prabang, 60 miles south, depart from here. I spot a covered boat with ten “luxury” car seats and six small wooden stools. Somebody shouts Luang Prabang and I jump on the boat giving my luggage to the boatman. I capture a “luxury” seat and prepare myself for a comfortable journey.

It takes awhile before the boat fills up. It can hold a total of 23 people, and 5 fellow travelers end up on the luggage at the back.

Meanwhile, I enjoy the river life. Long tail boats come and go packed with goods. Porters, a few elderly women amongst them, climb up the steep stairs to the boat carrying bags filled with vegetables and cases of Lao beer. Small black pigs are driven up the steps. Soap lather floats by as women do their laundry upstream.

Around noon we take off. It is a fantastic seven hour journey past mountains covered with lush rainforest and limestone cliffs. I feel like I have gone back in time. Naked children play in the river. Men on small rowboats throw off their fishing nets. Buffalos and goats take a sunbath on the white sand along the river.

Near rapids, men and women scoop out water from the river, using large wooden bowls. Carefully, they let the water stream out of the bowl. They are looking for gold.

After a couple of hours the boatman stops the boat at the riverbanks near a small village. 19 people need to get off the boat, he calls out. They have to go on a bus for a few miles. Luckily, I can stay on the boat. No sooner do we take off and then hit a swirling rapid. With great craftsmanship the boatman is able to avoid the rocks in the middle of the river and keep the boat in balance.

Moments in Northern Laos: Going back in time, Northern Laos travel, adventure travel laos, culture and nature travel, Luang Nam Tha, Nam Ha protected area, Akha village, Akha culture, Nam Tha River, Lenten people, Nong Khiaw, Nam Ou River, riverboats, Luang Prabang, markets South East Asia, Wat Manoram temple, Wat Thammothayalan temple, That Chomsi stupa, the Mekong,  Tat Kuang Si waterfalls, Bart Drolenga

Then the Nam Ou River flows into the mighty Mekong. The river is 700 feet wide; the water is chocolate brown. A large barge passes by; it is a metal ship with a green two story high wooden hut. Men without shirts are smoking on the deck.

(Page 3 of 6)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

Related items

Search Content by Map

Search

All Rights Reserved ©Copyright 2006-2019 inTravel Magazine®
Published by Christina's Arena, Inc.