After a night of hearing various things crawling around our room, we get up early and head down to catch the boat from Muang Ngoi Neua. After sipping an iced coffee we wade through the muddy water and jump on-board the thin narrow river boat. After waiting enough time for my bum to go numb on the tiny wooden plank I am sitting on, and for what seems like too many people to get on board, we set off.
There is quite a bit more water in the river on this trip than on the way up. The rapids are really flowing and the boatman shows great skill in piloting his riverboat down the pumping water. We see more water buffalo and villagers fishing and collecting various resources.
I’m very pleased when I see the unmistakable sight of the bridge than spans Nong Khiaw. We are quickly off the boat and I start asking about a bus to Luang Prabang. A pickup style tuk tuk is about to leave, but we don’t fancy the 4 hour ride in such an uncomfortable vehicle. Now, I like to consider myself fairly hardy. I can tolerate being uncomfortable for quite a period of time, and I think I can tolerate much more than most before I speak up, but a tuk tuk I wouldn’t take for this trip. The seats are tiny, the padding non-existent and the roads are pretty bad. Instead I find that a mini-bus is leaving at 2pm, about 3 hours away.
We go back to a cafe we like and grab a salami and brie sandwich, a luxury anywhere in Southeast Asia, especially this far from real civilisation. We head back to the bus stop, and eventually, we catch the mini-bus back to Luang Prabang. The driver is not hanging around and makes what was a 4 hour journey there, a 2.5 hour journey back. I didn’t sleep, but I’m glad to be back so quickly.
In fact, I’m very glad to be back in Luang Prabang. I can remember first arriving here, thinking it was a beautiful quiet town with not much to do. But, having spent the last 5 days in such remote surroundings, Luang Prabang now seems like a metropolis. And I like it a lot.
A guesthouse tout meets us from the mini-bus, and does a good job of selling his place. We take a look and are very pleased with it. It’s in a new area for us, and is luxury compared to the last few days. No spiders!