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New Year’s on the Nam Ngum

I snuck out of our bungalow at Green View Resort while Lori and Noe were still fast asleep to get some much needed kayaking in. We had heard that the sunrises here are pretty amazing. After a star-filled night the […]

I snuck out of our bungalow at Green View Resort while Lori and Noe were still fast asleep to get some much needed kayaking in.

We had heard that the sunrises here are pretty amazing. After a star-filled night the first night, the clouds came in and remained through the weekend, so we didn’t get the sunrise we had hoped for. But the cool, foggy morning ended up being excellent conditions for slapping the water around with a two-sided paddle.

I searched for the supposed island of monkeys, but never found them. I did, however, see lots of water buffalo, which are a common sight around this part of the lake.

On my way back to the bungalow, I also spotted this goofy animal.

…one of two of the friendliest dogs in Laos that are residents of the resort. She’s currently enjoying a catnap…or dognap, rather.

After breakfast, we took advantage of the cool, cloudy morning to walk the road back to the small village between Green View and the main highway where there are a cluster of a few other accommodation options.

On the way, we met this Buba.

Like the monkeys below, Buba was rescued by the owner of one the nearby resorts and taken in for rehabilitation. According to the Frenchman caring for them, they’ve attempted to release Buba, but it looks like it didn’t take. The alternative, however, isn’t bad. He’s got a run of two square kilometers in native jungle habitat on his island and all the food he’d ever want.

These monkeys were taken in because of various trauma they experienced in the wild. One adult lost his hand in the wild (I believe from a trap, but my French is a bit rusty). They were originally kept in small cages in Vientiane, until they were moved up here to this basketball-court sized structure in the jungle.

The baby monkey below is the first to be born here to two rescued monkeys.

He’s quite the escape artist, but doesn’t seem to want to stray far from ma and pa.

Modern, new vacation homes appear to be going up around the inlet. Hopefully not the beginning of the end of this peaceful place.

 

Green View Resort and its neighbors sit on tiny inlets of a larger inlet off the northern tip of Nam Ngum Reservoir. The expansive reservoir is the product of Laos’ first hydropower dam originally constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though highly controversial (like all manmade reservoirs and dams in Laos), the dam’s output provides 100% of Vientiane’s power needs, with an additional 70% to 80% of capacity left over for exporting to Thailand. Revenue from exporting electricity to Thailand accounts for a quarter of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Laos is one of the very few countries in the world that is able to satisfy nearly all its electricity needs across the country with hydropower. Hydropower and lack of heavy industry make Laos the least polluted nation in the region, though refuse and agricultural burning can impact air quality greatly in urban areas, depending on the season.

We relaxed for a while at Nirvana Archipel in their unusual roundhouse dining room before heading back to camp. Noe decided to take this opportunity to let loose as well. Fortunately, we brought an extra diaper.

Despite the straight face, Noe loves the water. He loves bath time and got a kick (literally) out of his feet getting dunked in Lake Tahoe when he was just a wee little critter. This time around, he had a much more focused attitude, as he figured out how to flutter kick in the pool.

“Sorry mom and dad, but I’m trying to focus here.”

Whenever he encounters something new and challenging, he’s very intent to figure it out. Once he’s done that, he moves on to something else, it seems.

Yet, somehow, he still finds time for chillin’.

And catching up on his reading on New Year’s morning…

We had a supremely relaxing New Year’s here on Nam Ngum reservoir, which is just what the doctor ordered. We knew, back home in Vientiane, the neighborhood was partying hard (which ended up lasting several more days after we returned — don’t you guys have your own New Year’s coming up soon? Oh, who am I kidding.)

Since Lori had the next day off from work, we took our time driving back to the capital.

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We passed bright irrigated rice paddies — quite the sight in the midst of dry season.

 

…and discovered a whole new eating experience, just thirty minutes north of Vientiane.

We’d heard of the floating restaurants farther down the Nam Ngum (the river that feeds the reservoir of the same name) and took this opportunity to stop and check them out. We were very glad we did. A unique experience to say the least.

Located at Tha Ngon, dozens of floating restaurants bob (and motor along) under the Road-10 bridge on both sides of a horseshoe bend in the Nam Ngum. While the northern side looked quite a bit fancier, we were content with staying on the south side as it was out of the sun and offered seating closer to the action.

The various mobile restaurants float on pontoons and are accessed by a network of rickety-looking floating docks.

While all of the restaurants appear to be capable of movement, the larger ones seem to stay put, while groups of patrons rent out smaller ones to ride up and down the river while they are enjoying a meal. This time around, Lori and I opted for one of the non-moving restaurants.

 

 

I’d like to say that Noe enjoyed watching all the boats come and go, but really we were here for mommy and daddy. As usual, Noe did love the steady breeze.

 

Happy 2017 from Lao PDR!

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