BootsnAll Travel Network

Nam Ou river: Water World

We strolled down to the boat pier in Nong Khiaw pretty early in the morning, hoping to see if a boat was heading south down the Nam Ou to Luang Prabang.

“Hmmm, come back at 10.30,” said the guy in charge of selling tickets.

It’s great the way travelling forces you to relax, and just let things happen rather than trying to force them. Especially when you journey through a country as laid back as Laos. If this country was any more laid back it’d disappear in a haze of it’s own, well, it’s not apathy, it’s not laziness, more a nonchalance that dominates the atmosphere. And so up until 10.30am that morning, we didn’t know if we’d be on a bus or a boat to Luang Prabang. Heading back to the boat pier, and approaching the group of ten or so guys just lounging around in the shade, doing nothing in particular, and in which our ticket-selling firend was relaxing, we found out that yes, a boat would be going at 11am.

Sweet. Finally, I’d get the beautiful boat ride I’d been hoping for back here in Laos.

We settled into the small wooden seats on the narrow boat. It was just wide enough to fit two people across, and the seats had been shorn of legs on one side, so that they rested on the curved hull of the boat on one side, and legged it down to the centre of the boat in the middle.

The engine started, and we pushed off from the shore out into the brown water. The mountains stood tall around us. Bamboo huts rested just beyond the river bank, looking down at us as we floated away from the village of Nong Khiaw.

“Are you happy?” Bec asked, looking across with a smile.

“Yep, I’m happy.”

Two minutes after this comment, and less than five minutes after we began the trip, the rain came. Monsoonal, torrential rain. The sort of rain that sends Noah scurrying off to the hardware store to procure some timber. The boat did have a roof. That roof was about as solid as a seive, and within just a few minutes we were absolutely drenched. Saturated in the literal sense; our clothing could not soak up a single extra drop of water, it was so wet. We may as well have been travelling under water. The stunning views of rolling mountains had disappeard into the cloud. I couldn’t see past my rain covered glasses.

For an hour this continued, unrelenting, before we pulled over to switch boats. Our new boat was, thankfully, a little more water tight. And whilst the rain did let up a little for the remaining five hours of the trip, it never stopped falling. When we arrived at Luang Prabang we were cold and wet and grumpy, with numb arses from the wooden seats. We were tired and hungry.

We got ourselves to a guesthouse, made sure there was hot water showers, and collapsed. I quickly warmed up under the beautifully warm water, whilst Bec began going through her pack. When we’d collected our bags from the boat, her waterproof cover was hanging off like a monkey swinging from a rope. And the look on Bec’s face when I came out of the shower told me the news was not good.

“It’s wet. Everything is wet.” She was nearly in tears. Every single piece of clothing in her backpack was wet. Not just damp, but wet. Actually, I tell a lie. There was one item that somehow remained dry – her swimsuit. Seriously, you couldn’t make this shit up.

There was nothing to do but grab a couple of beers, and sit in the room and wait for some of her clothes to dry.

Stupid boat trip.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply