It was 6 in the morning of the day I decided to leave Luang Prabang and I still didn’t know what to do. Anya and Liam left the day before back to their respective countries. Poor Elena was sick but I was looking forward to leave and Casey and the Finnish girls came the day before keeping her company. I had two options: head towards south and leave the country ASAP or continue further north to explore less touristy places, the villages in the north of Laos. What kind of traveler would I be if run away when I don’t like a country instead of exploring it more? Later in Cambodia I would find out that the problem is not the country or the people, the problem is that we always do what other people have already done because we’re afraid of getting really lost or something bad happens to us. So eventually we don’t live our own experiences but a commercialized copy of other people’s experience.
6:30AM, backpack ready, something to have breakfast on the way and 2 hours walking out of the city to hitchhike. Direction: North.
And I couldn’t make a better decision. Roads in the north of Laos are really bad, slow and mountainous, as I already experienced on the way to Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. I spent the whole day to reach Nong Khiaw, a small town 150km from Luang Prabang (don’t believe Google, it’s not just 2 hours ) where one can take a boat to go to Muang Ngoy (pronounced Muang Noy), a small village among mountains that can be only accessed by boat. I arrived in time to take the last boat with some locals and a Korean woman (Kim) with her son. It was already night when we docked in Muang Ngoy. The surroundings were awesome but the village itself was disappointing. The massive-tourism hand was also there and everything was focused on the tourists. Accommodation was very expensive for Laotian standards (well, it was very westernized, that’s why) and I finally shared room with Kim and her son by 70000 kip for all (around 8€).
Next day I left Muang Ngoy and move to a very small village 2 hours away walking, Ban Na (I had to pay 10000 kip for passing through a bridge I didn’t need but the local people wanted to build a new bridge to transport goods and it’s of course logical that we pay it since we’re rich and don’t really need our money that we got working so hard). Moving to this village I also wanted to get rid of Kim. She was very nice normally, but annoying. And honestly I didn’t like her way of treating the people, demanding rather than asking.
And there, in one of the isolated villages in the north of Laos, breaking away from the world for 2 days, on a huge mattress by 10000 kip a day (around 1€), no Internet, electricity only from 6pm to 10pm (and not strong enough to charge my laptop), I could relax and enjoy the moment and the absolute nothingness at Mama Kham’s home.