Muang Khua
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Are we there yet?: Discovering the River Villages of Northern Laos
We are packed into the small wooden boats with our knees pulled up to our chests and our shins pressed against the person in front of us. I am determined to find the small remote village in Northern Laos, purported to have some of the oldest tea trees in the world, but getting there is a 3 day journey including 8-hours on this boat. Once the boat gets moving, I quickly forget about the un-comfortableness of the transportation and am pulled into the gentle rhythm of life on these river banks. Throughout the journey, we pass by small communities of people, living life the way they have for centuries. Men are fishing, young girls are washing each other’s’ hair, women are doing laundry, and children are playing in the water. Water Buffalo can be seen coming up out of the water and lounging in the mud. These villages cannot be reached by any means other than these boats, and this basic, quiet existence is a beautiful sight to behold. This 8-hour journey up the Nam Ou River runs between Muang Khua and Phongsali. It is not quick or easy, but I would recommend that anyone desiring to truly get off the tourist path, take this boat journey. If the 8 hour trip is too much, you can take a shorter river journey between Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw. As the boat schedule changes seasonally and daily, simply ask at your hotel and guest house for where to go and at what time.
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