Nong Kiaw+Muang Noi – Welcome to the Jungle

After PeeMai (thai: Songkran) I found some travel companions other than my backpack. A Kiwi couple Sanji and Catelyn (People from New Zealand), One Italian girl (Gemma) and one Dutch girl(Roos). So we were a colorful mix πŸ™‚ We made our way by bus to Nong Kiaw. It is a beautiful “city” in midst of huge limestone walls, the Nam Ou river and Jungle where ever you look. We decided to camp near the river, which was a nice thing to do, if it wasn’t for the rain in the night…but my huge backpack includes a big tarp, so we got out dry after all πŸ˜‰

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After 2 nights we went on to Muang Noi, a serene place that is only reachable by boat and was supposed not to have any electricity…but we arrived one week late.
Chinese money and a mass of seasonal tourists slowly modernize the country.
At least there was no Internet…yet.
One night and two all you can eat buffets later we started a supposedly easy one-day-trek to the next small village Ban HoySien , that really did not have electricity yet (at least only self produced)
On our way there we got to know about a tribal village that was “only” 3h trekΒ after HoySien.
There we asked the guest house owner for the way and got a really confusing description that got us almost killed… am i exagerating? A little maybe. But if we did not have a guardian angel in the form of a local hunter appear to us, we would have walked straight into…..Damn, i almost took away the suspension.
We only saw what was coming after one more hour of walking, but i cannot make you read for one hour, can i?
The Hunter told us with an relieved face (relieved that he found us) , that the Village we were looking for was the other direction.
When we were asking what was in the way we were going he made a motion with his hands and said something like “Fire-fire” and “No-No”
We just trusted his directions and walked back, almost lost our path again and then we saw the other side of the valley lit up in flames.
It was the biggest fire i have ever seen…by far. I think the flames were about 7-8 meters high, and covered a huge area!

After we recovered from this shock, we went on…to find ourselves in the next tricky situation.
You probably know how the Lonly Planet advertises it can get you “off the beaten track” well we were literally looking for it…there was just no pathway anymore. Leeches were everywhere, crawling through the holes made for shoe laces…brrr
but we found a promising path after wading through 50m of creek…and it seemed to be the right.
We were so relieved when a Tribe couple came along this path to tell us we were back on track.
But soon our water reserves, which were not planned for a 5h but for a 3h trek, were exausted. That’s when our second guardian angel appeared, he brought us all the way to the Kamu-village showed us a small creekΒ to refill the water (no i did not get sick from it…and it was better than dying of thirst πŸ˜‰ )

The Village Ban KiuKaan is a barren, a little bit depressing place.
Everything is done for survival, the men are hunters, the women collect bamboo.
It is self-sufficient, but its not an easy life on top of the mountain.
But the children develop games anyways, with what ever they have, in this case two big flat round seeds…for a game at which i am not very good at πŸ˜€
I tried my best.
The next day we walked to Ban Hatsepui, a long but easy trek, we were really relieved after all this walking in the sun with about 39 degrees to see the Nam Ou.
Ban Hatsepui is a much moreΒ happy place, the grounds seem to be fertile, the river is directly adjacent and the children have an open smile on their faces. In short it was way easier to get integrated in the children’s activities, then in the Kamu-village. They actually invited us to play their games.
Finding a stone on the rocky riverbed, that is thrown in again and again (wow these kiddies are fabulous swimmers…butterfly, freestyle etc. with 8 years) or shooting slingshots at supposedly impossible targets.
Games i guess, that will help in later life…but so easygoing.
I really enjoyed this village. Teaching them cardgames, juggling, getting shown around in town, painting fingernails, running around etc. just having a lot of fun together.
And the Adults watched happily somebody is finally powering out their children πŸ˜€
Then we took the morning boat back to Muang Noi, and relaxed there for a few days.
And the rainy season started….but thats stuff for the next entry πŸ˜›
Enjoy:

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Now our group splitt, me and Roos have a hitchhiking competition with the other three. Who can reach Tachek first…bad only that it seems to be raining every day πŸ˜•
we will see
So long Ole

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Water! – Mekong and Buddist New Year

Wow the last few days were so rich of events…could you even say that? “rich of” or “poor of” events? Anyhow you get the point, i crossed the Thai-Laos boarder, i slept i a dodgy guesthouse in a boarder town (Muang Ngoen…or something like this πŸ˜€ from Nan to Pakbeng)…had a amazing busride through the mountains of northern laos, saw a lot of burned hill sides, took a very old looking ferry over the Mekong and spend the night in Pakbeng…a very strange place.
I arrived around 2pm and the little town or big village was like a ghost town…almost nobody was around all the restaurants seemed pointless, as they were closed anyhow…but the boats arrived at 6 and it broke loose a massive change in the village.
It was a strange experience to see the 2 faces of such a touristic place.
But i can not say this often enough:
I can totally understand all the tourists, as i am one myself, because it is really beautiful! The only important thing is the mentality of the tourists. Do they try to adapt to the country they are in, or if they are bringing their own country with them.

The Next day i took a “slow” boat to Luang Prabang for the buddhist new year celebration.
The Mekong is amazingly beautiful…white sand beaches next to the river, lush jungle behind it and sparkles of bamboo huts that simmer through the leaves. And the traditional long fisher boats…WOW
The only downpoint is all the trash that floats in the middle…styrofoam, plastic, burned woods from all the forest fires (which i still haven’t decided if i can like them or not πŸ™‚ ) and other unidentifiable stuff…that makes me not take a bath on one of these beaches πŸ˜‰

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When we finally arrived after 7h sitting on the floor in the back (i don’t know what crazy voice in my head told me that i will be more relaxed in the back than on the comfortable seat i was sitting on first πŸ˜€ )
There was a big confusion, because instead of taking us to Luang Prabang they took us to a station about 5km before…obviously they had some kind of deal with the TukTuk drivers πŸ™‚ tss..
Ole decided to walk…after 5 minutes a i was able to hitchhike…sometimes you just have to take a dare.
While sitting on the back of the Pickup i had the first experience why the New Year here is called water festival πŸ˜€
My driver stopped at every place on the street with people standing and the soaked me completely πŸ˜€
It was such a nice and liberating feeling. Everybody was smiling and dancing on the street…and it still continues…loud musik everywhere, lots of beer, water and foodcolor πŸ˜€ but please, see for yourself πŸ˜‰

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I decided not to write anything about my plans anymore, because everytime i do that, something happens, that makes me change them completely! πŸ˜€ Which is not necessarily a bad thing…
“If you want to make destiny laugh, tell it your plans”

So Long Ole

p.s. i am so sorry for the felt 100pictures, but i just could not decide which one i did not want to share with you πŸ™‚

p.p.s. As always, thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment and ask crazy questions, i don’t bite (at least not if i don’t know you that well πŸ˜‰ )

Nan – Land of the Ghosts…

…Forgotten!

Nan was a communist region and no tourist was allowed here 26 years ago.
So life is pretty much the old Thai life here.
I mean don’t get me wrong!
Obviously there are guest houses here, and in high season a few tourists, but you can not compare it to those touristic “hell holes” (as my host Tony calls them πŸ˜€ )
It is serene here, if you go out of the city, which has basically no traffic, you find yourself in a lush green forest, filled with hidden gumtree plantages, midst the mountains.
The province is full of beautiful National Parks and Wild-live Preserve Areas.
Every small village has its own temple. A little like the churches in southern Europe…just more beautiful, with dragons and mythical creatures πŸ˜‰
IMG_2206Tony hosted me in his Restaurant, if you are ever coming here check it out! He is an amazing chef and his wife makes delicious Thai food!
He worked as a chef for the Royal Navy for 6 years and now parttime as something i woud like to call extreme cook πŸ˜€
Cooking food for 1000’s of people in Afghanistan or in the Papa-Newguenean rainforests …somebody oughta do it

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Sadly enough I only spent 3 nights here, because my timetable kinda gets scrambled by the Songkran Festivities (Buddhist new year -> it becomes impossible to travel) and the end of my Thai visa, so i will go to Laos tomorrow morning.
But i think it will be great, spending a boat ride on the Mekong πŸ˜€

So long Ole

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Goodbye Pai, tribes and sunsets

I enjoyed easter, made an evil April fools joke with my friends at home and relaxed a lot!
Now it is time to move again.
Next big stop: Nan
then LAOS!!! YEEHAA!! …hrrm…or something like this

I picked up the ukulele and really consider getting one for my big boat journey from the Philippines to Australia.
Ukuleles are just so much more social then a Didgeridoo πŸ˜‰

Anyhow that was a short post so enjoy the new gallery:

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I can only recommend Pai! it is amazing here!
I love you all πŸ™‚
So long Ole

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