Lost in Laos (Part 5) - Xiang Men Village, Nam Khan & Mekong River

4:31 PM

So here's finally the last part of my travel to Laos, after a good one month has passed since the time I returned from my trip. I guess travel posts are time-consuming to compose, because I've been meaning to finish up this bit since days ago but the photo editing and research was a little too much for the busy week I had.

Anyway, here's how we spent our last two free and easy days at Laos - crossing the Nam Khan and Mekong River, to explore various villages and possible tracks.
During these two days, we travelled mostly on our bikes so I didn't get to use my camera as much as I'd like to, despite the photogenic livelihood of the villagers around me. I was too busy hanging onto my dear life while I cycled (I only learnt how to cycle just last year lol) through busy streets and uneven slopes.

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So the above pictures are shots of the Nam Khan River. There wasn't much on the other side of the bamboo bridge that we crossed, but there were quite a number of children who gathered at the river to swim.
Seeing that sight, the juniors that I went exploring the river with actually wanted to swim too... LOL. I wasn't too keen on getting myself soaked just before dinner so I simply took care of their belongings while they played at the riverbank with the other local kids.

The night before Day 7, we spent a lot of time trying to decide on what we could do since we've already explored most of whatever Luang Prabang and its city has to offer. Initially, we had plans to travel to another part of Laos that was about a four-hour van ride away, but school trips has its restrictions and rules...
Limitations really frustrates me but let's just say that we somehow managed to find another alternative (after hours of Google searches) that wasn't too bad.

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We decided to cross the Mekong river to explore the village and do a trek that was about 25km (last time we checked) in distance, with us ending at the far bank of the Mekong River and a waterfall known as Tad Hoykhua.

To cross the Mekong river, we bought ourselves our lunch before we departed on the smaller boats to the other side where the village of Xiang Men greeted us. It was relatively quiet and disparate from the bustle in Luang Prabang's city where we stayed in. It was not really a place frequented by tourists and there was nothing translated in English to help foreigners around but, we did had a lot of fun playing with some of the children while taking their portraits. I think there were a couple of weddings going on while we were there too since everyone was gathered at someone's home with loads of pottery and food prepared for the festive occasion. This village just screams traditionally rural Lao.

It also seems like the trek that we intended to do was not a common route taken by most. Many locals were giving us odd looks as we asked for directions (in broken Lao), and some even told us that it was too far a distance for us to travel by foot.

But well, we did have a whole day so that's what we did LOL. There were nine of us in the group as we travelled, so even though we had no maps or phone signals whatsoever, we were kinda motivated by each other's company despite the arduous and uncharted path we have ahead of us.
I always liked adventures like these because it makes you feel so alive and liberated, while having to be completely self-reliant. Or in my case, supportive and faithful of the group mates I was traveling with.

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The long trek wasn't very inviting because it was just a dirt track made of dust and sand that got into our eyes and noses each time a vehicle passes us by. By the end of our journey, we were literally caked in brown sand. I was cleaning my face with wet wipes and I didn't know if the brown on the wipe was the sandy dirt or my face concealer... LOL.

So even though it was a dirt track and there wasn't much to see, we did come across herds of water buffalos or cows that crossed paths with us. We started chasing the farm animals to get more shots of them up close because, what are the chances of us being able to follow a wild herd? Maybe we're just being typical Singaporeans since we got so excited by the sight of farm animals lel.

The scorching sun was really such a bane during a journey, and the bottled water that we had with us was already running low. Thankfully, we managed to come across a couple of unnamed villagers, so we could still stock up a little on our snacks and drinks that kept us going on the road. I bought this traditionally made rice cracker that only costs me 20cents (omg I should have bought back more to sg) and a bottle of tea that I realised was far past its expiry date only after I've consumed the entire beverage lol.
Sadly though, our spoken Lao wasn't actually comprehensive enough for us to find out what the names of the villages that we made stops at were, so I'll leave them nameless. But during our short breaks there, we got to see quite a number of interesting traditions! Like there were a couple of locals using traditional machinery (that we've never seen before) to make like cotton buds and other basic necessities. It was so cool and I was glad I agreed to take this unbeaten path with the rest of the team.

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When we were about more than halfway through our journey, we were getting really tired and restless from the heat so I suggested getting a hitch hike from the next lorry or truck that we see. I guess it's sort of a convenient trick that I've picked up from my solo trip to NZ, although I was having my doubts about hitch hiking in SEA.
But we were pretty lucky! We got a ride from our first hitch, and on a super huge lorry that could fit all of us comfortably in the back, together with a few of the locals. Feeling the dirt-carrying wind on my face while I was on board a burning hot lorry with friendly strangers while we laughed and journeyed through bumpy roads was... A good and priceless experience. It was quite a highlight of my Laos trip.

When we finally reached the waterfall, we realised that it was not open to public yet because there were still some construction going on?? Not sure if we felt disappointed, especially since we just went through such a tiresome trek, but I was still pretty content and satisfied with everything that I got to experience while I was on the road.
We had our super late lunch before we took a ferry back to the city of Luang Prabang. The ride was about an hour plus long and I dozed off to the rhythmic rocking of the boat. I didn't know how worn out I was until I sat down, but I felt pretty accomplished.

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That was pretty much my last day of Laos, after some of us spent our last night at the night market and at Utopia (the only bar in Luang Prabang that closes at midnight). I was glad I got to travel with some like-minded individuals, even though I signed up for the trip not knowing any of my juniors hahaha.

So here's me finishing my final edition of my Laos travel log, and ticking Luang Prabang off my travel list!

Check out my other posts on Laos:
▶ Lost in Laos (Part 1) - Luang Prabang
▶ Lost in Laos (Part 2) - Hill Tribe Villages
▶ Lost in Laos (Part 3) - Kuang Si Waterfalls & Butterfly Park
▶ Lost in Laos (Part 4) - Lao Living Farm
▶ Lost in Laos (Part 5) - Xiang Men Village, Nam Khan & Mekong River

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