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Nong Khiaw, Laos Day 2

Nong Khiaw, day 2 - my favorite day of our trip. So much fun! As I said last time we had signed up for a day trip leaving at 9am. By this time we were getting up sometime between 6:30 and 7 so plenty of time to get some breakfast and be ready to go. When we woke up it was pouring outside. So much rain! We just laid in bed listening to it for a while and I was hoping it would stop before we left, which it did thankfully. Prepare for approximately a billion photos of our day.

We got up and had breakfast at the one Indian place which was super tasty. Banana roti and samosas - breakfast of champions! The jokey complaining people from the bus ride the day prior were there and we were talking with them and they were the other couple going on our adventures today. They were nice, but didn't follow any of the signs or anything that said how to respect the culture there. Like wearing a bikini top around (I only did that one time - and there weren't really other people around - before I realized I should cover up when swimming as well. I just hadn't thought of it beforehand), handing out things to the kids in the villages, lots of pda, etc. They just did whatever they wanted which...oh well.

First up was a boat ride up river to visit a village. Home's brother Ken was our guide for the day and he was super awesome. I just loved that whole family! Apparently we could have gotten massages as well from his sister I think. You can just tell that Ken loves what he is doing and we never felt rushed or on a timeline or anything. It was just like we are having fun and seeing things and it is all good.

It was still cloudy when we left, but clearing up slowly.

On the way upriver I didn't think about how we would have to kayak back down through this in the afternoon...

Chicken tracks - the farm animals just wander around wherever. In the some of the photos above are cows and pigs just chillin.

Our first stop of the day - a Khum village, Bon Houahoy. The village is not very big, very muddy from all the rain, and Ken told us lots about the customs. The boat ride there was gorgeous - the mountains all cloudy and I loved it.

Lots of ducks wandering around

The playground area at the school. There were only 3 rooms to the school. The teacher wasn't in that day so they were just doing whatever. The really young kids had an adult watching them and they were singing songs while we were there.

The temple area where the villagers leave offerings (the fenced area)

Their fish traps

Then it was back in the boat for a short trip across the river 

Once we got to the other side we walked through another tiny village and then headed off to the waterfalls. You have to pay in the village to access the falls, but that was all included and Ken took care of it so we could head out. 

Walking through the rice fields. Ken told us about the different ways to grow rice and such as we were walking. And there were so many butterflies that were beautiful! They don't like to stay still to take photos though...

And the path was super muddy. Our shoes would just be caked in it, you would be weighed down with so much mud, until we got to a stream to wash it off and start all over again. 

It was really beautiful and even though it was clearing up on the way to the falls the sun was still behind clouds (thankfully! So then it wasn't as crazy hot)

We took a short break at the shelter in the above photo (2 up) and found this butterfly who let us photograph him. 

And look how big this guy is!

More bugs. I kept stopping for photos of bug so my the end of the trip the other couple kept pointing out new ones to me :)

Then we made it to the bottom of the falls. It took a bit to walk up to the big top falls, and you just walk through the water for the most part. The hillside is just small waterfalls, like a billion of them, and it was fun. 

And the larger falls at the top!

We all had a swim and cool off while Ken got lunch ready

Plants and such on the side of the falls

The water wasn't as cold as the falls in Luang Prabang that we went to so it was nice. So wonderful to just hang out in the water for a bit.

Our eating utensils from the jungle

And the feast Ken's wife made for us - all vegan! Long beans and cabbage, stir fry noodles and veggies, sticky rice, and tomato jeow (not spicy) and not pictured a spicy jeow as well. So tasty! I love all the fresh veggies, all the sticky rice and dips, all the wonderful flavors. 

Oh and I almost forgot. So before we left I was looking at things to do and some of the places on my list I nixed once I read how during the rainy season there are lots of leeches. We were there right at the tail end of the rainy season. Like one park in southern Thailand and I read this travel log of these two girls and they were saying they were there about the time we would be and there were just leeches crawling all over and dropping on them and stuff. I was just like nope. That is not happening. But I had forgotten all about leeches until the other lady mentioned them on the hike in, but still didn't think much of them. And as I said before in my post where we visited the elephants I don't like things touching me. I figured if I did get a leech on me I would freak the heck out. I mean...I don't even know how I would get it off me as I wouldn't want to touch it, but it would be on me, and it would just be a mess.

So we are eating and I feel a little itch or something on my leg and I look down and realize I have a tiny leech on me. I was just like ah! Raymond get it off me! and he did and it was all good. I didn't super freak out at all and I was so proud of myself. Just that first shock, then asked Raymond to get it off and we were all good. I was surprised how tiny it was - only a few cm's and super skinny. Like a little black line. 

Then we continued eating and I felt something in between my big toe and next toe on my one foot. Didn't think anything of it, but pulled off my shoe and there was another leech! And he was all fat cause he was drinking my blood and I again was just like get it off me!! And Raymond did and all was well. That one hurt for a moment as he was so fat on my blood! Crazy. And I still didn't have a major freak out. Yey me! I was proud of myself. 

And the sun finally showed up. One last dip after lunch before heading back

We were walking and came across this pomelo tree and Ken was like anyone want some? We said sure! So he climbed right up, like a monkey he said, and got some for us. 

Cutting off the crazy thick rind and we snacked on it on the walk back. So tasty. I don't know that I have had one before and they were just all over there. Like a grapefruit, but not as intense. 

Oh, also on the way back Ken kept stopping to tell us about the vegetation. We tried some leaves that I don't remember what they were called, but were quite tasty. At first they didn't taste like much, then all of a sudden a tart lemony tasty. So so good. 

Then the other lady had slipped on the way down the falls and banged up her knee. Nothing major, but it was bleeding a little bit. Ken found some plant and twisted it up and mashed it up, making a bit of a paste with it, then put it on her knee and it stopped bleeding instantly. He was telling us all of these tips and uses for different plants we passed and how the knowledge is just passed down from generation to generation. So if you are in the field and get hurt you can fix it yourself. They don't really have good medical care there (the other guy was a doctor and he was helping make a children's hospital in Luang Prabang. He said people would travel forever to get there as there just isn't anything else). 

Then I handed Raymond the camera to take photos on the way back. It was so beautiful!

Then when we got back to the village we sat and talked with the village ladies a little bit. Well mainly Ken talked to them since we don't speak Lao, but they seemed very nice and smiley. It is just what you do. Sit, take a break, have a chat, you know whatever. I loved it! The whole day was really relaxed even though we did so much. It never felt rushed. 

Then on to kayaking back to town! And oh was that an adventure...We knew we had some rapids to go through, but then the rest of it should have been a piece of cake. I know the river was a bit higher/faster than normal because of the rain, but we can do this. I mean Raymond has never kayaked before and I don't remember the last time I did (whenever I did with my mom on a trip home...) so yeah no problem...

Ken gave us some tips before we started - when we get to the rapids just go with it, don't try and fight the water, the kayak doesn't want to flip over so just let it do its thing and you won't tip, etc. The other couple owns kayaks and goes all the time so they were just like no problem. Oh and we were supposed to stay left. Ken kept saying stay to the left. Don't go to the right - stay to the left the whole way down the river. To the left is easier, no problem, but right is a bit more advanced we shall say. So stay left. Got it. 

So we are going and the kayak likes to go to the right...we kept trying to stay to the left, but it didn't want was beautiful though. Absolutely gorgeous! It had gotten warm on the hike back, in the sun, but was perfect out on the water. 

So we get to the rapids and Ken was waiting for everyone to go through so he could help if needed. He couldn't come back, so we all had to go first. So stay to the left. And what happens? The kayak immediately goes to the right. just right off the bat to the right no way we are staying left. Trying not to freak out and let the kayak do its thing, but we head straight for some rocks and the front goes right up on them. Then the current is strong enough it just whipped us around so we are going backwards through the rapids now, so we can't even see where we are going. We got stuck in this little eddy thing and Raymond is behind me swearing and freaking out and I am rather calm surprisingly. He is yelling at me to do what he is doing, paddle on the same side as him and I almost laughed as I can't see him so I have no idea what he is doing. He was trying to get us turned around and I saw Ken go by motioning for us to keep straight and we would be fine. So finally Raymond taps the shoulder he wants me to paddle on so we start paddling on the left trying to turn us around, but the current is turning us the other way so we switch to the right side and get turned around and made it out of the rapids without falling out! Yey us!

Really I think Raymond was really stressed out, but for whatever reason I was just like whatever. If I fall out I will just float/swim over to the shore, or downstream a bit where it is calmer. Above is where we all pulled over and dumped all the water out of the kayaks that we had gotten when we went through the rapids. Fun times. OH! And the other couple went through on the left, but the guy fell out! Man I felt good about us after that. I mean they are experienced kayakers! We made it through a bit crazier then them, but we stayed in our kayak! Woohoo for us!! 

So after that Ken said it was smooth sailing till town. No more rapids, just keep left and you are good to go. Just nice, easy paddling. Haha. Yeah. Of course that is not what we had. Why would we? 

There was this one spot where there was a bunch of grass and plants sticking up from the water and you could cut sharp left, like 90 degrees, and that is what the other couple did. Could we do that? No way. We couldn't stay left! We had to go out and around to the right and through some more rapids, got lots of water in the kayak, got stuck in currents going the wrong way a few times, a few small whirlpools trying to turn us all around, really just lots of adventures. We just couldn't seem to stay to the left so it was a lot more exciting than it should have been. A bit stressful at times, but so gorgeous. The mountains were just beautiful to float through when we were at a calm section. 

And we made it back to town in one piece. I know at one point we almost got stuck on some rocks that were underwater, but close to the surface. The kayak scraped across them and yeah. I am not sure that Raymond enjoyed it as much. I think it was more stressful for him since he was in the back trying to keep us going the right way. He vetoed me anytime I tried to suggest another kayaking trip. I don't blame him. I think I was not the best partner. I don't know that I really helped out that much...I might have made it worse...Raymond said as we were talking later "You didn't take many photos while kayaking." I was just like yeah...I was trying to help/not fall out/not lose the camera. I only took photos in the smooth parts, and there weren't that many for us. Ah it was fun.

We stopped to see Home on the way back to our room and he had found another lady who wanted to take a boat up to Muang Khoua the next day! He really was amazing! So we made plans to stop by later and meet up with her and see if we could figure this out so it wouldn't be crazy expensive. 

Then back to the room to lay in the hammock for a bit. So nice to just relax by the water. 

Then we hung out up on the patio of the restaurant where we were staying for some drinks and snacks. 

We could see tons of lighting on the other side of the mountains. It was fun to watch. Then we met up with the lady before dinner and made all of our plans for a boat trip the following day. It worked out perfectly. 

While we were there a guy from Lonely Planet was there talking to Home. He was asking us all kinds of questions, what we did, how did we like the tour, what about the viewpoint and we just gushed about how awesome it all was. At one point he asked if NK Adventures should go in the guidebook and it was a resounding YES!!! They are the best! How today was the highlight of our trip thus far. I really just cannot say enough good things about Home and his family. Getting a boat for us, trying to get us a cheaper price for the tours, info on where to go and what to do, just chatting, he was awesome. He went above and beyond what I would expect from someone. Yes, he makes money on the tours and everything, but he never seemed like that was what it was about. It was more he just would help you if he could. Not like some of the other places we talked in other towns where the people just seemed to have $$ in their eyes. 

We had dinner then and got back to the room and didn't see the giant spider so thought oh, maybe he is gone. Well then we get in bed and he is on the ceiling at the end of the bed!! I told Raymond he is not my bro (the spider) and I don't want him in my bug net! Raymond fell asleep without turning off the light so I was trying to work up the nerve to walk under giant spider and turn it off then run back into bed and the bug netting shelter, but luckily Raymond woke up and turned it off for me.

Then we woke up in the morning and giant spider was gone...but there were a billion tiny baby spiders in its place! Eeek! So it was a lady spider! I was so glad we were getting out of there that day or else we would have had to switch rooms. Although I could deal with a billion tiny baby spiders in the ceiling. I just knew they would get ginormous and then no.

So that was our fun stop in Nong Khiaw. I loved it there so much. Absolutely spectacular scenery, the people were super nice, just loved everything about it. If only we would have had more time I would have spent a few more days just lounging in the hammock there. Definitely a must see town in Laos!


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