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Laos, Nong Khiaw: Climber on a Thread

Published: 6.7.2015
Meander of the Nam Ou River washes rocky edgy banks, bamboo cottages bravely face monsoon rains, chickens walk in front of local shop, Laotians talk on rocks. You can experience such a Laotian atmosphere at mountain town Nong Khiaw.

Between Nam Thou and Luang Prabang, there is a north town of Nong Khiaw. The easiest way to get there is by bus. A ticket from Nam Thy to Nong Khiaw costs around 75 000 kipů (about 10 dollars). The journey itself is only for the most callous. Dusty road with bumps that look like they were made by flying saucers are not anything unusual for experienced driver. He even slows down. Something unusual for an Asian driver. The bus makes a brage in Oudomxay so you can rest for a while.

Laos - Nong Khiaw

Attention! When you get off the bus stick around it. Even today, Laos has many active minefields easily triggered by a light step. A road from Nam Thy to Nong Khiaw take around six hours. Pretty good considering its 170km of elevation, going up and down, and its endless serpentines. It looks like it would take you three days at least. The vistas are worth it, though. Gigantic mountains will make you look like ants.

Laos - Nong Khiaw

Once you enter the town you would be charmed by the combination of the Nam Ou river and grey rocks penetrating through heavy clouds. The monsoon theatre just begins. Rain drops are three times the ones we know from Europe. The only place ideal to wait through this is the only restaurant in the town center. It offers a typical Laotian dish called „sticky rice“. We form rices spheres with our hands and dip them in spicy dip. Right from the restaurant there is a wooden office with an inscription saying „Climbing“.

Laos - Nong KhiawLaos - Nong Khiaw

Omnipresent ropes and carabines, climber boots, helmets, sitters… all of this make you think 35 dollars for organization, equipment and a guide cost next to nothing. So, on the following day, we stay in front of unnamed rock beauty 7 kilometers away from the town. Twenty meter tall silhouette offers three types of climb. All of the three climber routes have individual peculiarities. Their common point is true reward for a climber, regardless if he is an amateur who used a sitter for the first time in his life. The vista of the Laotian north stops time and you would let yourself go away with nature. It is a great place for meditation.

Laos - Nong Khiaw

Laos - Nong KhiawLaos - Nong Khiaw

Laotians are attentive meaning you don’t have to worry while rappelling down. Such a performance requires a reward. Left from the rock there is a beautiful bamboos cottage. There you can enjoy some of Laotian specialties .

Nong Khiaw surrounded with cliffs has this aura of nature. Perhaps it is thanks to the Nam Ou river. Perhaps it is because of Laotians and their character. Perhaps, however, it is caused by calm and nature ruling it there.

Laos - Nong KhiawLaos - Nong Khiaw

GPS: 20°34'16.6"N 102°36'51.5"E


Text and photo: Šárka Vacková

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