A Slow Boat Trip to Muong Ngoi    

Boats on the river
We went to the boat dock around 10:30, just as the boats (there were three of them) arrived from Muang Ngoi. On the stairs to the landing was a woman and little girl with bunches of bags of stuff. As the passengers retrieved their bags and climbed up the steps, a group of locals carried stacks of corrugated cement roofing pieces and loaded them into a different boat. One of the boats that arrived had some long lumber planks and bamboo. These too were hauled up the long stairway. A woman carried a bag of concrete on her back, supported by a strap around her forehead. The same woman picked up a huge load of long lumber probably 3 times her height.

Misty morning
The Nam Ou is a meandering river of a good width. Sometimes the current seems quite strong and there are small rapids. The green vegetation is broken only by burns and occasional houses and villages. The silhouettes of trees against the gray clouds and fog softened forests looked like petrified moss frozen in white stone. The slow boat went along at a good clip. There were quite a few fishtraps/nets set in the water with bamboo tubes for floaters.

Going up the river
We passed people in slow boats going from one village to another and boys madly paddling wooden canoes while one worked a fishing net. The sight of bungalows along the river signaled we had arrived in Muang Ngoi about 1 and 1/4 hour later.

Practicing for boat races

Happy woman carrying wood in her boat
The waterfront is crowded with guest houses and bungalows. The main street has its share as well. But people are friendly and don't seem jaded to tourists. After finding a place and getting lunch, we walked a little ways up a path. There we saw lots of butterflies-- many hovering high in the branches of a butterfly tree (maybe sassafras since it looked like it had different shaped leaves and I'd read sassafras grows here.)

Muang Ngoi from the river

Rooster wandering in the street

The main street

Woman spinning
We didn't go far on the path because we were planning on walking it tomorrow. The village itself is probably more guest facilities than regular housing. But it has a large school and playing field and lots of chickens and roosters running about the street.

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