Mekong River Daily Life near Nong Khiew Villgage in Laos

Overland Travel in Laos: Nong Khiew to Luang Prabang



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After a few days in Luang Prabang, Steve and I decided to get out and see some of the rural countryside in Laos. Nong Khiew received high marks in Lonely Planet’s Southeast Asia on a Shoestring, so we booked a river taxi upstream to the village from Luang Prabang. Unfortunately the river taxi option fell through because there weren’t enough other people to make the trip. Since you can also catch a three hour bus that goes directly to Nong Khiew, we chose that option. We even had a little taste of the Mekong River experience when we found an enormous catfish a roadside rest stop. After shaking out the leg cramps from the packed bus, we propped up our heels at the Sunset Guest House overlooking the Nam Ou River for a few peaceful days in Nong Khiew.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Since we struck out in our attempt to catch a river taxi up the Mekong for the three hour trip to Nong Khiew because there weren't enough other people to split the boat fee, Steve and I ended up catching the bus. When we first arrived at the bus station, I was worried that we were going to be cramped on this industrial style transport for three hours.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    We arrived in Nong Khiew right on time. Some of the other folks who made the trip stepped off with the bus with a "so this is it?" reaction to the rustic surroundings while their bags were stacked for them on the packed yellow colored earth.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Steve travels a lot lighter than that group in the above photo.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    They had peppers in Nong Khiew too.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    We picked the Sunset Guest House as our place to stay in Nong Khiew. The Sunset is run by a nice family, and although the rooms are small and pretty plain, they are a deal at $2 a night, and the food is excellent.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Speaking of the food, our first stop was the restaurant which is situated on a nice deck overlooking the Nam Ou River. Since we hadn't really eaten anything all day at it was 2 in the afternoon when we arrived, we ordered quickly.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Steve got a huge bowl of noodles that looked really good. I went with ginger chicken, which became one of my favorite dishes while staying at the Sunset.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    The main room in the Sunset is filled with these cushions laid out for reading or just relaxing.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    The sun sets quickly behind the steep limestone mountains surrounding the Sunset Guest House. It didn't take long for the stars to appear in the darkening night sky above the restaurant.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    A copy of Lonely Planet's Laos guide and a cold bottle of beer Lao were perfect for planning the next day.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    After planning the next leg of the trip, it was time for some more eats from the Sunset's restaurant. The large bowl is full of chicken curry, and I think there is another bowl of chicken curry in the background too.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Our bus turned out to be the pretty standard white box type model in this photo. Luckily we got there early, because the seats filled up really quickly on the bus.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    The Sunset had an internet connection that some people tried out at night. I attempted to check my e-mail there, but it turned out to be the slowest connection I've ever come across while traveling so I gave up.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Our $2 a night room was comfortable and had a wall of thatched bamboo. The beds were pretty much mattresses on the floor, but comfortable nonetheless. In this photo I'm sporting the Hobbit pants that I picked up at the Luang Prabang night market. The Hobbit pants are quite comfortable, but I've found it hard to wear them outside of Laos because they look a little weird. Photo by Steve Iams.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    An early morning view from the window of our room at the Sunset Guest House.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    There are only a few rooms at the Sunset, and judging by the spaces between the doors, all the rooms were about the size of ours.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Eating breakfast out on the deck of the restaurant was quite nice because of the towering limestone mountains in the background and the Nam Ou River flowing by in the valley.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    This bird of paradise flower was growing right outside the bathroom at the Guesthouse.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    The small baby of the owner got a lot of attention from the guests.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    In the early morning, fog seemed to collect in the valley between the mountains and hang above the river giving it a spooky look.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Not sure if they meant to have a James Bond reference on the license plate of the bus. I guess James Bond is Double O Seven, but Triple O Seven in Laos drives a blocky white bus instead of an Aston Martin. Eat our dust, Pierce Brosnan!

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    Although the seats were spaced really close together inside the bus, it felt like there was at least a little open space near the front.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    This fellow seemed pretty interested to see what kind of score Steve was getting on the Travel Yahtzee. So far we've carried that game over three continents, and the competition is fierce to roll the highest score.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    We passed over a bridge and caught another glimpse of the Mekong from the window of the speeding bus.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    After about an hour or two of driving, our bus stopped at a small restaurant for a pre-arranged rest stop. I think most people were surprised to find this large catfish unceremoniously flopped on the algae covered floor.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    I guess if I were going to eat this monster, I'd probably store it somewhere a little bit cleaner, but oh well. We were told that the catfish in the Mekong grow up to nine feet long, so this specimen is just a baby compared to the behemoths that lurk in the muddy depths.

  • Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004

    Overland to Nong Khiew, Laos and stay at Sunset Guest House - October 2004
    To get some relief from the cloistered innards of the bus, I stuck my head out the window for a little while.