Na Nam, Laos - Ang Nam Ngum Reservoir
Our third day we set the alarm so we didn't sleep all day. We were heading out to Na Nam to spend a day on the Ang Nam Ngum Reservoir. We had wanted to get some breakfast before heading off so we set the alarm for 9am and it is a good thing we did as I would have slept longer. Breakfast was just dry cereal which confused the servers greatly - why didn't I want milk with my cereal? But it was alright. We also got our first "orange juice" of the trip. I guess technically it is orange, just bright neon orange, and apparently there is some juice in there as there is pulp, but it is not orange juice like you would thing. It is kind of like tang, but that is what all of the orange juice was like. There was even a stand at the one market that had a little thing set up so it looked like juice was coming straight from the orange, but it was also neon orange (and no the oranges there were not neon orange). It was odd.
So it had said in the guidebook to go to the bus station and catch the bus to Thalat and then a tuk tuk from there to where we were staying. No problem. The bus station was close by so after breakfast we packed up and walked on over. Only the lady at the ticket counter told us we needed to get a bus from the North Bus Station which is kind of a ways outside the city on the opposite end of town. It was hot so we went to try and get a tuk tuk to the bus station, only the drivers kept trying to get us to get on the bus back to Nong Khai. We were just like no, we don't want to go to Thailand! We even had our map and were pointing to where we wanted to go, but they didn't seem to get it. Finally one of the tuk tuk drivers came over to ask us where we were trying to go and we told him and he took us. The other people weren't understanding what we needed, but we made it. It was the first tuk tuk ride of the trip and it is really nice riding around in them. It doesn't feel so hot with the wind blowing.
Once we arrived at the North Bus Station we just had to go around back and wait for a van to be full to set off to Thalat. We got there and got in the van to wait and I thought it was going to take forever to get a van full of people as it was just us. Then after a little bit the driver turned the van on and all of a sudden people popped up from nowhere and filled all of the seats. They really do try and fit as many people as possible in the vans. Once we were all situated we were off. A lot of the scooter shops along the way had the above inflatable people whose one arm just bent waving you in. I loved them! They just looked so friendly like hello, come in! I like them better than those dancing guy ones.
I don't even know why I took this photo, but this is what it was like driving to Thalat. Not much along the road for the most part, then you would get to a small town and there would be some shops and such.
Our first views of the mountains. That is the road for cars going the other direction in the top photo. Vientiane is pretty flat so I was excited to be headed towards the hills. The vans are like taxis almost. You just stand out by the side of the road if you need to get somewhere and they will stop and pick you up. Then they will drop you off wherever you need to go along the way. One guy was going off the main road a bit to his house and we went down all the little dirt roads to get him there then back out. It was interesting, but it does make the trip seem like it is taking forever. We were the only foreigners in the van. Everyone else lived in the area which I liked. I had read something with someone complaining before we left that they had to pay more for the bus than the locals, but that was not true for us. Sure the people who didn't go as far didn't pay as much, but we paid the same price as everyone else who went from Vientiane to Thalat (and on all of our other travels). Not sure if it was just because we were in the low season or what, but we didn't have any issues with that in Laos.
There are a lot of dirt roads in Loas and it apparently hadn't rained in a while so you can see all of the dust/dirt that is covering the plants next to the road from the traffic. Suddenly I understand why most of the people on scooters wear those face masks. I wouldn't want to breath all that in either.
We arrived in Thalat about 1.5 hours after we left for and it only cost $2. There was a tuk tuk driver there at the end station for the van who was all ready to go take us to the Long Ngam View Resort where we were staying. It is apparently popular on the weekend with richer people from Vientiane, but we were there on a Tues so it was empty. The ride didn't take long and the driver was really nice, but everyone else just kind of stared at us like they couldn't figure out what we were doing. It was odd, but again the ride was only a few minutes long.
We got to the resort and our room had such an incredible view! The top is a panorama, but I know it is a bit small. I think if you click on it you will go to the photo in my album which is larger. It was absolutely gorgeous! Get ready for an influx of photos from the same place....it can't be helped. It was so beautiful!
After getting settled we went to get some food checking at the restaurant at the resort first. They had veggies and rice so that was fine, plus we got to sit outside and enjoy the view.
After lunch it was swimming time! There were some shaded areas of the pool so I tried to stick to those so I wouldn't get too much sun and so I didn't have to put on more sunscreen. There was literally no one else there except the people working in the restaurant which was empty. Man does the water make a difference! What before was way too hot was actually pleasant while swimming around. Raymond even said at one point it was too cold in the shade in the pool! Crazy talk! The next photos are all from our swimming fun.
Playing with the underwater camera. I really like this photo for some reason
The kiddie pool had Hello Kitty tiles.
Swimming was so much fun. We swam until we got tired then went to hang out in our room for a bit. It had air conditioning, but there were huge cracks lining the windows and doors so it didn't get very cool. It was fine since we had the pool! Right after we got out of the pool a bunch of kids showed up with drinks and food and music all kinds of stuff. It was like party in the pool.
Just before sunset we wandered down to the town to check it out. Well I think town is being a little generous. It was a very short road with a few shops on it and not much. We walked by people making their dinners and lots of chickens in the road, but that is about it. It might take a minuet to walk by every building if you are walking slow. Lots of boat and people asking if we wanted a boat tour which could be fun, but again we were there in the low season so it would have been expensive for just the two of us. We were also only staying the one day. It wasn't much of a wander, but the sunset was really beautiful out over the water.
Once we got back all of the kids were gone and the place was empty once again. We had dinner at the resort since there weren't really any other options, but it was good. Yes a bit more expensive in Laos prices, but not very much for us so it was fine. We ordered tempura veggies for dinner and a few other things since we were hungry but it was so much food! The tempura veggies was a gigantic plate of veggies and we would have been fine with just that. It was all delicious thought so we ate it all.
After dinner it was just back to the room to look out over the water. The moon was out with the clouds and it was just gorgeous! Lots of bugs all day - butterflies and dragonflies and such, and lots of lizards all over at night. It definitely sounded like you were in the jungle as there were just tons of bugs making lots of noise. We left our swimming suits outside to dry overnight and put up our bug netting so we wouldn't get eaten by mosquitoes overnight (since the room was not at all sealed up).
In the middle of the night I woke up to someone coming in the door from the balcony that scared the heck out of. I started hitting them and yelling "what are you doing!?!" and just as I was turning to wake Raymond up I noticed a) he wasn't in the bed and b) the person was yelling "It's okay! It is me!" Turns out it was Raymond bringing in our swimming suits as he woke up and heard it was starting to storm outside and I woke up just as he was coming back in. Man that freaked me out as I thought it was just some random person. The storm was awesome though I wish it would have been during the day so I could have watched it! Instead I was so tired I didn't want to get up, but I did listen. Tons of wind, thunder and lightning, and the rain. Man I sounded like more rain than I have ever experienced. It was so loud it was crazy and I loved it! The wind and rain were actually so loud you could barely hear the thunder. It was awesome.
The next morning was sunny and beautiful again. We went down to see about breakfast and the chef there was so nice. Raymond said we don't eat eggs and milk and whatnot and the guy kept asking if we ate this or that and made a lovely breakfast for us. A huge salad with seasoning and some fried potatoes. The chef was trying so hard to find stuff for us to eat, he had made french toast for everyone else and wanted to make sure we were happy, and we were. I was fine with the salad and potatoes. It was a good breakfast. Afterwards we went down to see about getting back to Thalat so we could head on to Vang Vieng and they had a van to take us. Which is probably good since there is like nothing else out there so I am not sure how else we would have gotten there besides walking. We packed up and headed out. I will save the rest of that day for my Vang Vieng post. Even though we didn't spend a lot of time, and there is not much here, I am glad we stopped by to check it out. It was really incredibly gorgeous.