Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Down time

Monday afternoon we finished about 3:45 or so. We decided to go for a boat ride and walked over to the boat landing. Arriving at about 4:02, we saw the door closed and a sign saying CLOSED AT 4:00.

I asked a nearby merchant if he knew the number of the boat cooperative manager and he put in a call. I talked our way into a boat ride to Muang Ngoi and back. Well, we couldn't make it to Muang Ngoi, he said, not enough time before dark. Fine. Just a boat ride then, the boat driver would decide when we had to turn around.

We found a boat owner and he talked with the guy on the phone. $35, he said. No way, I said, $20. $30 he said.

I'll tell you what, I said, $25...BUT, $30 if we make it all the way to Muang Ngoi.


We finished our beers at the boat landing and were on our way.

With a few beers for the river.

We made it to Muang Ngoi (not surprising given the incentive) and what do you know? They have concrete steps now (in Nong Khiaw too, by the way). Very posh. Last time here we had to scramble up the dirt riverbank. These small girls, I'm sure, appreciate the stairs. They were doubled over struggling to carry probably twice their weight. Very strong, their father said as he passed by me with double the load.

The sun setting in Muang Ngoi, we traded in our empties for 6 more full beers and headed back.

When we got back we had another drink on the west side of the bridge before returning to our guesthouse on the east side (very comfortable Riverside Bungalows for $20. Much nicer than the $2 place my dad and I stayed at before.). Two German women came in to grab chairs. They were waiting for the night bus to Houaphan Province to the east. It seems the bus is scheduled to arrive in Nong Khiaw sometime between 8:00 pm and 12:00 am and doesn't stop unless flagged down, so they camped out on the road to wait.

We bought a beer for them, wished them luck and headed over the bridge for dinner.


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