We spent the May Day holiday weekend here in Laos, only about 15 miles (as the crow flies) from our house, but a whole other world from central Vientiane. This is what we missed about Laos when we were trying to move out here, and we certainly don’t feel like we get enough of it. Urban areas in Laos are pretty laid back as it is, but outside of those areas you are seemingly transported to another time — and things get reallylaid back.
A short distance down the bank from where we were staying is an unassuming path that disappears into the water. On the other side of the river is similar one. And in between, one or two old ferries, constantly taking people, motorbikes, cars and trucks back and forth. The nearest bridge? A thirty minute drive upriver. Crossing the Nam Ngum on one of these ferries takes a couple of minutes and costs about US$2.50. It appeared that foot traffic was free.
Each ferry is powered by just one or two longtail motors. The ferries are free-floating and not attached to any cross-river cables. I imagine things get pretty interesting if the longtail fails, which I’m sure they do from time to time.
Safely on the other side of the river in Nathe, we set about exploring the bucolic little village.
There’s a colorfully picturesque little wat just steps away from the ferry ramp…
…with it’s own That Luang!
With the exception of yet another wedding which we were most certainly not invited to, there wasn’t a lot happening in Nathe on this particular Saturday. It was, however, brutally hot, so that may have been at least part of it.
We went around looking for a nice and cool place to grab a drink before ending up at this little shop.
Noe, per the usual, was the talk of the neighborhood. As with many young celebrities, I’m starting to sense that he’s beginning to not enjoy fame nearly as much as he used to.
Big indeed. That’s 3.1 liters of cola there, friends, eclipsing a half liter bottle of beer.
We had a morbid chuckle over these outlines on the highway. In Laos when there’s an automobile accident, it is illegal to move either vehicle until the police arrive at the scene. This being Laos, that can take quite a while. It is also required that the police paint an outline around the vehicles involved, presumably for some sort of investigation. Most of the vehicles involved are motorbikes, and while the outlines here are no indication that there was a fatality, they are still unnerving to come across, nonetheless.
After wrapping up our time in Nathe village, we continued north to check out the western edge of Phou Khao Khouay National Park. We knew that most of what there is to see in the park is in the eastern portion, but we were very close to the west entrance and thought we’d scout it out for the future.
We didn’t find a lot, save for this waterfall park.
Not quite like the photo in the sign, but we are at the end of the dry season here…
Adjacent to the waterfall park was also a little pond with swan boats…but alas, it was too hot for anyone in their right mind to want to putter around on a swan boat.
We were also close to Dansavanh Resort. We’ve seen billboards for this place across the province, which succeeded in piquing our curiosity.
The billboards all feature people on jet skis in the lake and not the resort itself, so we were quite curious what we’d find — “resort” can mean just about anything here in Laos.
When we arrived at the turnoff, we knew we were in for an experience…
I pictured a long and arduous dirt track leading from the main highway to the banks of the lake where the resort is located, but this was anything but. The driveway to the resort is nicer than the highway, itself!
As we crested the top of the hill, Nam Ngum reservoir came into view, but still no resort.
And then, it appeared.
Hmm. That’s not Lao. That’s Chinese.
Yacht Club. Casino. Interesting…
Is that…Confucius? Hmm…not very Lao, either.
Walking around the “resort and casino” we came across a sign that essentially stated that it was illegal for Lao people to enter the casino and gamble without official permission from the government. Given that we were deep in central Laos, as opposed to being in a border town, we thought this to be a bit odd. We later discovered that it is illegal for Lao people to go to casinos in general. So who do you suppose this entire place was built for? I’ll give you one guess (hint: it ain’t us)…
“Ease Scent Restaurant” caught our eye on the sign coming in, so we followed the arrows and ended up at this place.
It was bloody hot, but we couldn’t resist sitting out on the lake. We were seated at a giant round table with a giant carrousel. It wasn’t clear if the place even had A/C as all the doors were open. Some of the male staff were walking around shirtless. Yep, we’ve definitely somehow crossed over into China.
The food prices were pretty outrageous, so we ordered the cheapest thing on the menu. Our $10 dumplings were pretty tasty, I must admit.
Shortly after sitting down, our child went into the arms of a couple of young women (as is often the case here in Laos). Two of the waitstaff had taken to him and asked Lori if they could feed him some rice porridge. Noe loves the stuff, and it was no charge, so she agreed…cause hey, free rice porridge.
I couldn’t tell from my vantage point on the deck outside, but I think he may have gotten roped into a high stakes poker tournament. But unlike others in the room, Noe somehow managed to keep his shirt.