Mekong and Nam Ou to Nong Khiaw 

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The incredibly scenic Nam Ou (Rice Bowl) river is a tributary of the Mekong, rising on the Laos China border and entering the Mekong at Pak Ou.  It was Nan Chinese who sailed downriver to found the town now known as Luang Prabang

Pak Ou Caves

Our vessel for a very long cold day on the water                          

Pak Ou Caves at the confluence of the Mekong & Nam Ou

The caves are famous for their collection of miniature Buddha sculptures.  Most are damaged and are brought here rather than be disrespectfully disposed of.  Most of the Buddha positions are represented, i.e. meditation, peace, teaching, rain and nirvana.  The river is the real star of the trip for most visitors

  Our driver, supervising gassing up at the floating gas station


Both driver and pilot were very skilful at navigating the rocky and often very shallow river.   The son drove, his one armed father was his pilot,  he knew the river like the back of his hand

Dad, handling the shallows
The river was stunning and I was cold, but most of all I needed a bathroom break.  Spotting a quiet beach our driver pulled over
By the time our feet touched the sand the welcoming committee were swarming over the dunes

      The small fry were more cautious

       The local school was just over the dunes   

                                            Complete with smiling principle

Now we could donate the school supplies we had been carrying around.  Next day was a holiday and with all the excitement the principle was  having trouble settling his students for assembly and dismissal

Flag Lowering Ceremony and National Anthem

 Oh no, the flag is stuck up the pole         

Oh no, the halyard is snarled up


             Third time, smiles all around


The singing was very sweet and lovely not at all like a national anthem.  Perhaps because of the young voices

Apparently they also have a farewell committee (spot the teenager)

  Back on the river, almost there                                          

Guesthouses nestled by the bridge


There is a cluster of guesthouses by the bridge.  Sunset GH is in the Lonely Planet so of course it was full.  We got into Mexai GH next door.  A raised concrete and wood 2 storey house with a hospitable Hmung family.   Bathroom downstairs in the yard,  it was pleasant and only $2 per night

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