We wake at 630 am, which is a little too early for my taste, but everyone else wants to catch the 9am ferry and I am outnumbered 3 to 1. When we walk to the ticket office it turns out that the boat doesn't leave until 11. All I can think about is how I could be snoozing away in our cozy bungalow. Pete and I go to a cafe, while Tara and Tyler walk around the village. All my thoughts of sleep fade away when I sip on the best chocolate milkshake I've had in months.
When eleven rolls around we are packed on a skinny long boat with 20 or so other people. It will take us on a one hour ride on the Nam On river to the village of Muong Gnoi, which is only accessible by boat. There are cushy airplane style seats in the front but we get on last so we are on the benches in the back near the engine. It makes it almost impossible to communicate, but I don't feel the need to talk. I just want to enjoy the scenery. The limestone karsts tower over the river and it feels like we have stepped back in time a few million years and that a pterodactyl may swoop down, carry away our boat and feed us to its hatchlings. The river bank is fairly uninhabited except for the occasional person, pig or water buffalo. Foot paths lead up the banks to hidden villages.
When we arrive we pick bungalows that overlook the river; drawn to the inviting hammocks that hang from their porches.
After a delicious lunch of Indian food, Pete and Tyler venture off into the woods to find a cave. Tara and I walk down the street to have a look around. It only takes two seconds for me to be enamored with this tiny little village. Its filled with squaking chickens, mother dogs escaping their hungry puppies, children chasing one another, and steam rising from pots cooking some delightful unknown food. No one trys to sell us anything or pays any attention of us. We run into a group of children and spend a long time hanging out with them. Tara gets out the phrasebook, asking "Jo su nyang?"(what is your name). We learn each of their names and tell them ours. Giggling, they teach us to count to ten.
Pete and Tyler return showing us photos and telling us about the large cave they found with a stream running through it and a pool large enough for Tyler to swim in.
Photo by Goingslowly
They then grab a Beer Lao and join in a game of petang. As the sun starts to set over the mountains, casting a pink hue on the river, we are all lounging in our hammocks. The only diversion from our tranquility are the cats that jump in our laps. When its dark we grab our headlamps to journal and read. We have heard that the electricity only comes on between 6 and 10. But for our set of bungalows it only works from 6 to 6:30, but I don't mind.
With alot of will power we tear ourselves away from our linen cocoons and head out for a drink. Its 9 pm when we venture out into the dark street. Most places are closed, but we find a little restaurant with a few lights on and two puppies playing on the floor.
We drink ginger tea and Bear Lao taking turns holding the soft furry creatures. One falls asleep inside my jacket. With a content smile and a puppy in his hands, Tyler says, concisely summing up the last 12 hours......."It was a good day."