My dear friend Perrine was very insistent that I had to go to Nong Khiaw, this off-the-beaten track village located four hours by bus from Luang Prabang. With some time to kill (and since my hostel had no extra beds for me to stay longer), I jumped on a bus and off I went.
The bus ride was uneventful. When I got off the bus, I started walking. My seatmate, a Canadian girl named Maryim asked where I was heading. I said I was looking for the only hostel in town, Delilah’s. She asked if she could tag along. And off we went. When we got to the hostel, the owner said he had only one bed left, a double bed in the dorm room. Maryim and I looked at each other and said “why not?!”
Maryim and I joined forces… I mean, we already shared a bed. We woke up early and hiked up to Phadeng Peak. We left at the crack of down hoping to avoid the ticket fee. We failed. But at least we got walking sticks! Perrine warned me it could get tricky, but the view up top was amazing. That’s what I kept telling myself. The convenient signs that told us how much time it would take to the top was a bit off. But I was also going really slow. Mirim was really great and waited for me the whole time.
Eventually, we made it and the view was amazing! It felt like we had gone up so far that we were above the clouds. Eerily weird…
The rest of the day was spent doing absolutely nothing. However, we did start talking to the hostel owner, a Kiwi who ended up in Laos many years ago. At some point, he invited us to eat spring rolls at a local bar. And apparently, Laotians love Bacchi ball. Also, Laotian men love karaoke.
The next day was spent doing more of nothing. Maryim and I had lunch at the same restaurant we had eaten for several meals. Then we went riverside hoping someone will give us a boat tour to no avail. So we read books and had pancakes instead.
Maryim was invited out by the hostel owner for dinner. She came back to the hostel crying. She said the hostel guy said she reminded him a lot of his ex-girlfriend (physically and personality). Then, it got back. He basically used Maryim as a real-life version of the ex and belittled her the entire night.
After talking, we went to bed, but we didn’t sleep. The hostel owner was also frustrated that night. A couple of French backpackers had stopped by the hostel restaurant and somehow, some way, that turned into an all-night, off-key karaoke session. We quickly checked out the next day.
Maryim and I said our goodbyes at the bus station. She was heading north and I was going back to Luang Prabang. Nong Khawi is a secluded village that reminds me a bit of what LP used to be. I hope it stays this way.