Jan 15, 2010
Day 12, Jan 13, phongsali to muang ngoi
At 5.15 the public broadcast started again. I got up by then anyway to make sure I'd catch the slow boat down the nam ou river. The boatlanding ban hatsa is 20 km away. But I didn't know I long it would take. My worries were groundless because it was more or less 20 km downhill. When I got on the road it was dark and foggy. I couldn't go very fast. But around 6.15 it become brighter though still foggy. From then on it was downhill mountainbiking of the first order! Altogether I made it in an hour to hatsa. Now I'm waiting for the boat to leave.
The boat left at 10 past 10. Well...
The ride to muang koua took 6 hrs. Again, quite an experience. This is not a tourist gimmick, you won't see any. Every 5 to 10 km is some small villag clinging to the steep slope. 70% of the land along the river is cultivated, usually in the slash and burn mode. The rest is old and regrown forest. An absolutely scenic trip.
Getting off the boat I'm muang koua a boatman approched me saying he goes to muang ngoi the very instant. I jumped on that offer instead of staying overnight and taking the boat next morning anyway. The night arrived before we did in muang ngoi, which made the scenery almost ghostlike. Now we are in one of the many incredibly beautiful areas of se asia covered by karst/ limestone formations.
Muang ngoi wasn't much to look at in the night. Very quiet it was though.
Km 20 Ave 20. Tm 2.00.
200-250 (?) km, 10 hrs by boat