The van pulled up outside the guesthouse as John was shoveling the last of his scrambled egg into his mouth. It was already rammed and was carrying more passengers than seats. Reminded us of the journey to Kep.
Surely this would not be the van that takes us all the way to Nong Khiaw.Luckily for us it was not, but the van we did get was still packed with all the bags tied to the roof rack.
The journey was pretty much uneventful except for the one stop we made to pick up some doors. In Laos the bus can stop many times for random jobs and you always fear the sound of the drivers mobile phone (Cell Phone for the Americans) ringing.
When we arrived in the town it was lashing rain so while everyone else scrambled about to find accommodation we went for lunch and took our time. We were rewarded with a cracking room with a balcony which gave us this view…
The first evening was spent walking the streets and stumbling across a guesthouse/bakery that promised the best cakes ever. When Karen went to order the grumpy man behind the counter barked:
They are sold out. Can you not see I am making more!
Nursing our cups of tea, Karen then mentioned to John that the place could do with a tidy.. Which prompted the guy to come out and clean the space on the table just in front of Karen.
He even asked if he could have any Thai Baht coins. Not for charity mind, just for his next trip across the border!!
Even after all that all was forgiven when Karen uncovered this hanging in the bathroom.
The streets gave us great photo opportunities.
For dinner we found a great Laos/German restaurant nearby instead:
The food was German fusion but the service was very Laotian.
The next day we rented some wheels. Was it Mountain bikes with grippy tires that would have made short work of the rugged terrain, or even a motorbike that would have eaten up the steep climbs on gravel tracks with its high powered engine.
It was single gear bicycles with baskets in front and so-so brakes. John took the lead as it was only his bell that would work.
We set off in search of caves. After twenty minutes of ups and downs we reached the bridge to the cave but it was out of action…
It was actually a steep river so we turned back and then cycled up a dirt track mountain before the terrain made us go another few kilometres on foot.
We then turned back and just cycled around the town, John getting laughs from the menfolk for his liberal use of the bell.
There wasn’t a lot to do in Nong Khiaw. The only other activity in town was the Steam Room. This turned out to be hilarious. Inside a building site for a new massage parlour and using the wood from the old knocked down parlour, the steam room was powered by a drum fire.
Before our ‘time slot’ we were given seaweed tea. When our host turned around Karen dumped her cup into the nearby grass. But her foul plan was undone when John swapped his full cup with her empty one. Touché.
It was nice to speak to the family that ran it. The son wanted to close down the Steam Room but the father said that while there was wood to burn there were people to steam!
After that we just enjoyed the scenery and the lack of activity was refreshing. It was the first place where we got to chat to the locals properly as they let their guard down around here as it’s not that touristy. The monks were even smoking, drinking Red Bull and listening to Rap music.. Well the young ones were anyways!