messing around in boats

Kenneth Grahame's Rat said, "There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." I read The Wind in the Willows in fourth grade and remember that line so clearly, even though I was never once a "messing about in boats" girl. Nor was I a "messing about in boats" adult, until Marc and I started traveling together when I was 47. The most memorable times in each of our trips were in a boat, somehow, and now it's something we plan for.

Our boat trip today in Nong Khiaw was on the Nam Ou, one of the most important rivers in Laos. It's actually a tributary of the Mekong. We hired a man to drive us up the river to the village of Ban Sop Jam, and then back down the river to stop at Muang Ngoi and then a return to Nong Khiaw. The trip took us about six hours, and it was absolutely spectacular. Again, the photos don't begin to show just how beautiful the trip was.

It was very cold when we started, as it always is in the mornings this time of year. But the scenery was just so beautiful it really didn't matter (much).

So cold and windy I wrapped my scarf around my head. Poor Marc just shivered.
Unbelievably beautiful. Sheer mountains at the river's edge, covered with rain forests.
That's our sweet driver.
Water buffalo everywhere, and also lots of wild pigs.
so beautiful
and clouds clinging to the mountains
tall mountains
such distinctive shapes
There were places where the river was very fast, white water. When we were going out in the morning we were going upriver, against the fast current, but on the way back there was one patch of water where it seemed like the driver had a hard time controlling the boat. We slipped and slid and scraped over rocks. It was great fun.

At Ban Sop Jam, a tiny traditional village along the river, we got out and walked around the village. They are traditional weavers, so I enjoyed that a lot since I used to weave, and had a big 45" 4-harness floor loom. Their looms were handmade, many with 8 harnesses and string heddles. Amazing.

We just loved this little village.
Drying rice. This IS the village -- the main (and only, we think) street.
We bought silk scarves from this woman
Weaving and winding bobbins
Need a seesaw for the playground? Got plenty of bamboo? Problem solved!
Just such a lovely little village.
We walked around for a bit and then got back in the boat to head back down the river to Muong Ngoi, which seems to be a popular spot for backpackers. We had a so-so lunch and a bit of walking around, but it was a hard place to be because of all the unexploded bombs displayed around the village. One big bomb at the restaurant, with bomblets placed on top. Our country dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on Laos -- and we weren't even at war with them -- and since we never admitted we did it, we certainly didn't go back to help clean up the mess we made. Laos is the most heavily bombed country IN THE WORLD. There were 580,000 bombing missions (or a bombing mission every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years); more than 2 million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos. People are killed and maimed by the unexploded ordnance everywhere. Shameful and disgusting. And the Lao are such gentle, soft people.

the food may have been ordinary, but the setting was gorgeous
more bombs
Muong Ngoi's wat
main street, Muong Ngoi
The boat trip was undoubtedly one of our best times on the water. It was so hard to capture the real beauty of the river, so at some point all we could do was just look around and be there, soak it up with our eyes.

Our last night in Nong Khiaw, so hard to leave. We'll just have to come back, that's all.

1 comment:

  1. Those bombs are horrible. That was a very terrible period in history. And to think it is still killing and maiming people today...shocking.


Thanks for your comments! We love them, they always make us smile.