Saturday, March 21, 2009

Muang Khua

We got up with a sense that we wanted to go on but were worried about where this would lead us. Freddie's back had improved after the massage of the previous night but not so much to feel comfortable about it. We should have taken this as a sign to stay another night, enjoy the peace and tranquility of Muang Ngoi and let things heal.
Instead we opted for the 5 hour boat ride up the Nam Ou river to Muang Khua. It was a lovely ride, and with plenty of space on the boat Freddie could lay back. Unfortunately by the time we arrived her back was very sore.
The haze that we'd experienced on the trip thus far in Laos had disappeared allowing us full view of the wonderful vertical mountains that came down to the river bank. Every little while we'd pass by a village for whom the river was the mechanism of communication, with no way in by road. Sometimes people would be picked up or dropped off at them. At one point we passed by the site of a market on the river bank, it initially struck me as odd but on further reflection I realised that travel to a market didn't have to involve going by road. In the suburbs everyone had a car for work and shopping, here they had a boat for the same reason. All of these villages had small hydroelectic plants, smaller than the engine of a car but enough to light a few energy saver light bulbs when the sun went down at 6pm. It was interesting seeing the wires from these little contraptions going up to the houses of bamboo above the river banks.
The town was not particularly attractive and we found that the only room available in the guesthouse that we'd aimed for was a horror but we'd commited to the guesthouse by carrying all our stuff too far down steps and with the pain of Freddie's back we decided that it wouldn't matter for one night. It added to a depressed mood when we thought over this and the decision to not stay another day in Muang Ngoi.
The guesthouse however had a very nice balcony and being full there were interesting people to talk to.
We'd expected that lights out would come at around 10pm when the generator for the town was cut and that this would lead to the guesthouse becoming quiet however we hadn't taken into account their little hydropower plant which kept a few lights running and enabled the family that ran the place to enjoy their Saturday night, to our discomfort. That added to the giant cockroach that crawled out from under the bed from time to time. In the morning I saw a large spider attempt to escape from the room by hitchhiking a lift inside a bag. Given the sense of depression that the squalor of the room had triggered in us I felt it better to wait until we were long gone before telling Freddie about this.

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