Khouèng Oudômxai

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  • Day111

    Pak Beng

    January 30 in Laos

    Nach 9 Stunden Fahrt im Boot sind wir für eine Übernachtung in Pak Beng angekommen.
    Es ist wirklich nur ein kleines Dorf, aber voll mit Guesthouses und Restaurants, weil täglich neue Touristen von den Booten zur Übernachtung kommen.
    Hier konnten wir dann sogar in einem einfachen Guesthouse mit Doppelzimmer und eigenem Bad für 6 Euro übernachten! 😄
    Am nächsten Morgen ging es dann nur wieder runter zur Anlegestelle, wo wir dann auf der anderen Uferseite einfach mal 2 Elefanten beim Trinken beobachten konnten. 🐘😅
    Sowieso haben wir während der Bootsfahrt so viele Büffel- und Rinderherden und auch einige Einheimische bei der Gartenarbeit am Ufer beobachten können.
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  • Day14

    Day 14 - Slow Boating Down The Mekong

    February 21, 2017 in Laos

    We had the warmest goodbye from the Day Waterfront Guest House in Chiang Khong which involved the couple who owned it forcing bananas on us for our journey and waving away our tuk tuk to the port like family members.

    Leaving Thailand and entering Laos is a mix of straightforward and faffy. You do Thai immigration, buy a bus ticket where the price is based on an eye ball of how big your luggage is, bus to Laos immigration which involves your passport disappearing through one window and reappearing 20 minutes later through another after dollars have exchanged hands. Then another tuk tuk to the slow boat which will carry us over the next 2 days from Houey Xay to Luang Prabang. Today was the Houey Xay to Pak Bang leg. Our tour guide is Mr Wong. His English is...ok. But he does use about 10 sentences of ramble where 2 would do which makes for some confusion. And says 'same same but different' a lot.

    There were about 30 of us on a long boat that's for a max of 40. Seeing as I'm anti social and don't like forced chat with strangers, especially for a whole day, I was delighted I managed to look surly enough to put anyone else off sitting in our booth. See photos for a pic of the boat but there are central booths, a seating area at the back and a flat you can sit on at the front. The scenery was stunning the whole journey passing lots of other boats, fishermen, cows etc and I was very happy catching up with my book/napping in between staring off the sides.

    We stopped at a local village on the way to Pak Beng. To be honest I didn't like it. The village was obviously not rich and the company give 2% of profits to the village in the form of clothes and school equipment so they gain in a way from it but it felt very voyeuristic. It was like going to a zoo but the exhibits were people. There were 2 boat tours visiting this small village at once, and I imagine others come every day, and the villagers didn't look thrilled as some of our group were leaning on their houses and taking close up pictures of their children. It was interesting to see another life less financially privileged but just made me unhappy that it has to be this way. A bit dose of perspective.

    After that we got back on the boat and had lunch which was very food considering it's mass catering on a boat. I then had a nice nap but realised I should probably go sit at the front and appreciate the view. Matt was already there with a beer in hand. We travelled till about 4.30 and after some more Mr Wong confusing rambles we got to the right hotel. And we even eventually got to the right room after assuming a key with 1 and 0 on it meant room 10, which was actually already occupied, not room 1 which was our actual room. Silly us. It's an interesting room. Dark wood walls and our first mosquito nets of the trip but also the first hot shower. The view from the balcony is awesome across the Mekong. We went to the bar next door for a pre dinner beer. I think it might have actually been someone's house that they've stuck some tables in and laminated a menu. We saw an elephant though on the opposite bank as the sun set and beer is about a £1 for a mega bottle so we'll take it. Dinner was a random set menu at the hotel included with the room which we ate on a forced shared table with a couple from Halifax but I survived.

    Another day on the boat tomorrow. If we make good time we can make a stop in whisky town. Whoop whoop!
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  • Day156

    We spent today travelling with a “slowboat” from Luang Prabang to Pak Beng. Tomorrow, we will continue on the Mekong river to Huay Xai, where we will do a three day hike with the Gibbon experience (you sleep over in tree houses and use zip line to get across the valleys - should be great :-)).

    The slowboat is a quintessentially Laotian way you f travelling on the Mekong. We enjoyed the opportunity to relax on the boat (it has seats for maybe 40 people But was only half full), look at the stunning scenery rolling past and listening to our audiobooks.

    We also met two fellow travellers - a married couple who originally come from India but have lived in Germany for the past 40 years. We were impressed how - despite their advanced age (70 and 60) they both set off on a 40 day journey through Cambodia, Lao, Vietnam and Thailand. We want to remain that adventurous when we’re that age!

    Apart from Anna, who got up early to do some yoga before our 7am departure from the hotel, we didn’t move very much today. Still, getting up so early made us both tired and so we’re in bed before 10pm :-)
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  • Day136

    Stray - Huay Xai to Ban Pak Nquey

    September 2, 2015 in Laos

    To get to our next major stop, Luang Prabang, we took a privately chartered long wooden 'slow boat' along the Mekong River. The journey was split over 2 days with us staying in a riverside village, Ban Pak Nquey, overnight. You can go overland by bus but it is a gruelling 14 hours along winding, poorly maintained, road. By river you can take a public 'slow boat' in similar time to our journey but you are crammed in with many people and livestock. There are speed boats that make the distance in 6-7 hours but these can be dangerous. We watched a number rip past, the drivers and some passengers wearing crash helmets, clinging on against the wind and spray.

    The night's rain had blissfully cooled the morning air and the wide brown waters of the Mekong ran strong and high before us as we carried our bags down the dock to the bowing gangplank onto the boat. The engine steadily rattled and thumped as we moved away and set a course up the river. Mist rolled off the mountain tops and a green carpet of farms and rainforest rolled down to the muddy banks. We past villages of coloured corrugated iron, streaked in rust from the heavy rains and humid air. Fishermen sat in boats so low they appeared to be in line with the water's edge.

    By mid-afternoon we arrived at Ban Pak Nquey, climbing up the bank and through the wooden and concrete buildings to be greeted by the village chief. Chickens and dogs roamed about and faces appeared in windows to see the arrival of the 'Farlang' (meaning French or White Person from the time of the country's French colonisation).

    We visited the village school as in Huay Xai we had brought school books and pencils as a gift. The children were ecstatic at our arrival, the older ones shouting 'Farlang! Farlang!', shrill with excitement whilst the younger ones shyly held back, uncertain of the tall white creatures.

    Assembling outside the school building, they sang the national anthem, nodding and smiling gratefully when receiving their book each. It was a humbling experience and Kim was almost brought to tears as the children sang their song. The children's behaviour a contrast to that of many children back home in respect to material gifts. They used their imaginations to create games with little or nothing. Kim and Anna playing with the girls, who had created a large skipping rope by connecting elastic bands, whilst Alex and Keo played football with the boys using a tired ball.

    After saying goodbye to the children we went to the home where we would spend the night. This consisted of a a single concrete room, used as a living room and bedroom, and a wooden annex where a kitchen and squat toilet were located.

    Sitting on plastic chairs around a small table lit by daylight cast through the open door we tried cooked buffalo skin and home-made rice whiskey before a dinner of green vegetable soup, pork with ginger, chicken with bamboo shoots and sticky rice.

    As darkness and silence descended in the village, its elders began to arrive at the home. Collectively we sat on the straw mat floor of the concrete room, around a small silver and gold shrine placed at its centre.

    Lit by a single electric light, we received blessings for our stay and future travels, everyone touching the shrine and those who could not reach, holding the backs or t-shirts of those who could. Rice whiskey was shared around the room until the small bottle was emptied. The elders moved between us, tying bands around our wrists as they quietly hummed prayers on barely open lips. Their soft dark eyes set in tanned aged skin.

    After the ceremony, as conversation and tiredness traded places, the elders melted away into the black void of the open door, leaving us to reflect before bed.
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  • Day80

    Day 80: Up the Mekong to Pakbeng

    September 3, 2016 in Laos

    Up and out very early this morning in time for our cruise! We were leaving Luang Prabang and heading up the Mekong River on a two day cruise to the Thai border, at which point we'd cross back into Thailand. The tuk-tuk arrived for us at about 6:45, and was already crowded with a group of 4 French people. A few minutes later we arrived at the dock where the boat was waiting.

    The boat itself is fairly long though not wide - probably about 30 metres long and maybe 3 metres wide. Not especially tall either, it sits low in the water as I guess most river boats do. With enough couches to seat 35 people we were expecting a crowd, but we learned to our surprise that the only passengers on the cruise were us, the four French people (who weren't actually in a group, just an older couple and a younger couple), and an older German lady. We also had two guides - one speaking English, the other French, along with a crew of 6 or so and a few Lao company employees hitching a ride up the river for the day.

    We set off around 7am and immediately were served breakfast - buffet style with sliced baguette, croissants, boiled eggs and bananas. Very French. The boat moved up the river at what feels like a reasonable speed, but is actually quite slow, and the scenery only crawled past.

    After an hour or so on the water we had our first stop, at Thousand Buddha Cave. This is a large limestone cave in a cliff directly against the water, filled with thousands of images of Buddha. Some very large (3-4m tall), others only a couple of inches high. Some of them were very old, but they were all put in there recently to protect them from American bombing during the war. As mentioned, parts of Laos were very heavily bombed, and everyone over the age of 45 remembers it.

    We didn't spend long here, maybe 15 minutes, before hopping back on the boat. The boat slowly made its way upriver, and we spent our time listening to podcasts, reading and just watching the scenery go by. It was mostly jungle here, mountainous in some places but not in others. Constantly rolling hills though, and overall not very populated.

    We had a buffet lunch on board the boat at about 11:30, with two different stir fry dishes and some fried fish - all very tasty, though some of the fish pieces had a couple of bones in it which always puts me off.

    Not long after lunch we arrived at a small village where we hopped off to take a look. I wouldn't necessarily say it was squalid, but it was very poor and the children selling bracelets (and some of the women selling silk scarves) looked quite desperate. But I just can't bring myself to buy in these situations, though mainly because I'm not particularly interested in silk scarves! Our guide La took us around the village pointing out various items of interest, including a gong at the Buddhist temple made from an old American bomb. These people were "lowlanders", ie they lived just near the river in houses on stilts, as opposed to the uplander tribes which live further up the mountains and only use small stilts.

    Back on to the boat, and that was out sight-seeing for the day. We spent the next 5 or so hours just cruising along, watching the scenery and enjoying the relaxed pace of life on the water. The current was very strong (we were going against it), and it seemed like it was quite a shallow river as there were lots of whirlpools, eddies and so on. And of course huge rocks sticking out of the water.

    We also saw several speedboats bouncing along the water - they can take you from Luang Prabang to the Thai border in about 4 hours (we were going to take about 16 hours over 2 days to do the same). We had briefly considered a speedboat but they have a very dubious safety record, and are extremely uncomfortable. Imagine sitting in a wooden canoe with no leg room in the sun for four hours while you get jolted by waves, blinded by spray and deafened by the engine - not our idea of fun.

    Approaching sunset we finally made it to the town of Pak Beng, probably the largest settlement we'd seen since leaving Luang Prabang. The cruise company have a small lodge here for about 40 people, and each pair on the cruise were allocated a separate bungalow. They were quite nice - not luxurious, but definitely comfortable enough for one night, and to be honest we could have even stayed longer.

    Dinner at the hotel restaurant was provided - three courses of Lao cuisine including beef soup, spring rolls, pork mince salad, stir fried vegetables, red curry, and coconut & banana sticky rice balls for dessert. We were very impressed with the food - although we'd had a fancy dinner the previous night, this was almost as good! Topped it off with a cocktail of Lao whisky and curacao, very strong but an interesting mix.

    Off to bed very early (9pm) as no wifi and no TV meant we had to talk to each other!
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  • Day86

    Pak Beng, LAO

    November 24, 2016 in Laos

    Ban Houayxay ist ein Durchreisestädtchen und hat nicht all zu viel zu bieten, deshalb reisen wir auch gleich schon weiter. Mit dem Slow Boat geht es zwei Tage (zu je ca. 6-7 Stunden) lang Richtung Luang Prabang. Die Bootsfahrt ist sehr ruhig, sie zieht sich trotzdem ganz schön. Die atemberaubende Naturlandschaft neben dem Mekong jedoch beschert uns immer wieder schöne Blicke und lässt uns dieses Erlebnis bestimmt nicht so schnell vergessen. In Pak Beng schlafen wir nur eine Nacht.Read more

  • Day38

    Slowboat Tag 1 (Huay Xai - Pakbeng)

    December 23, 2016 in Laos

    Fast eine Viertelmillion kippten wir heut in eine Slowboat-Fahrt den Mekong runter (210.000 Kip für die zweitägige Bootsfahrt von Huay Xai nach Luang Prabang...jaja, ich weiß, die Wortspiele werden immer schlechter 😅)! Relativ früh (9:00 Uhr) ging's deshalb zum Bootsanleger, um noch Tickets zu ergattern, obwohl der Kahn erst um 11:30 Uhr ablegt. Zur Belohnung für die juvenile Bettflucht gab's Frühstück mit Mekongblick (Bild 2)!

    Wenig später (10:30 Uhr) stiegen wir auf das Schiffchen - keine Minute zu spät, denn so konnten wir unsere rechtmäßigen Plätze noch einnehmen. Eigentlich gab es mit Nummern fest zugewiesenen Plätze; da jedoch niemand mindestens sechs Stunden auf harten Holzbänken oder in direkter Motornähe verbringen wollte und ferner die Nummern nur als Blätter auf die Sitze gelegt waren, begann ein munteres Hin- und Herverlegen der Zettel. Auf den morgigen Verteilungskampf freuen wir uns schon...

    Zur Flussfahrt selbst ist nicht viel zu sagen, außer: sehr schön! Das Slowboat macht seinem Namen alle Ehre und so schippert man sehr gemächlich vorbei an Fischern, Nutzvieh und tollen Ausblicken auf den Strom (der soweit nördlich noch überraschend schmal ist, jedenfalls im Vergleich zum Irawaddy, naja..wird wahrscheinlich im Süden dann schon anders aussehen). Eine entspannende Abwechslung zum vielen Busfahren und mal ein anderer Ansatz zur 'weihnachtlichen Besinnung' als sich lastminute durch Kaufhäuser zu drängen! 😁

    Heut Nacht beherbergt uns die kleine Ortschaft Pakbeng. Der Ausblick von der Hostelterasse ist nicht übel (siehe letztes Bild)!
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  • Day56

    Luang prabang

    November 29, 2017 in Laos

    Endlich in der Wärme! Am nächsten Mittag kamen in Luang Prabang, der ehemaligen Königsstadt an, wo wir für drei Nächte blieben. Die Stadt hat viel Charme und hat uns sehr gefallen. 20% der Bewohner sind Mönche, eine Stadt voller Tempel. Abends wuselt das Leben um den Nachtmarkt.

  • Day59

    Vang Vieng

    December 2, 2017 in Laos

    Kurze 1.5 Tage lang war unser Abstecher nach Vang Vieng, wohin uns eine Passstrasse mit beeindruckender Landschaft führte. Direkt nach der Ankunft haben wir uns zum Tubing aufgemacht, wofür die Stadt in ihren wilden Zeiten bekannt war. Mit der Tour am nächsten Tag gings in einem Gummireifen durch eine Wasserhöhle, auf den Fluss kayaken und zu einer blauen Lagune mit einer riesigen Höhle. Leider war das ganze mit viel warten verbunden. Anschliessend haben wir den Nachtbus zurück genommen.Read more

  • Day125

    125. nap: Pakbeng

    February 6 in Laos

    Azok után, hogy még a Super Bowl napján is sikerült lemaradnunk a reggeli vonulásról, ez a nap volt az utolsó lehetőség arra, hogy megnézzük a szerzeteseket. Judit előre szólt, hogy nyugodtan hagyhatom aludni, minden további nélkül el fogja nekem hinni, mennyire érdekes/szép/akármilyen volt.

    5 után felkeltem és megpróbáltam csendben összeszedni magam, hogy még időben ki tudjak menni az utcára. Szerencsére időben érkeztem, pár perc után megjelent egy pár fős csoport, akiket az utca azon szakaszán összesen három idős néni várt adományokkal. Még bőven sötétségbe burkolózott az utca, így nem sokat lehetett kivenni a jelenetből, talán fél percig ha tartott az egész. Aztán a szerzetesek suhantak is gyorsan tovább, a hívek viszont nem mozdultak az utcáról, gondolom várták a további csoportotokat. Én is így tettem még vagy 5 percig, majd mivel semmi sem változott, a hideg elől visszamenekültem a szobánkba. Egyébként is ideje volt felkelteni Juditot, nehogy lekéssük a hajó indulását.

    Hogy mennyire volt szükség erre a nagy sietségre részünkről, az soha sem fog már kiderülni, ugyanis az a gyanúm, hogy ha a megbeszélt pickup időpontja után 20 perccel nem hívom fel az utazási irodát, hogy mikor jönnek már értünk, valószínűleg még most is a kisbuszt várjuk - a jelek szerint teljesen elfelejtették az egészet. A jegy szerint a hajó 8:30-kor indult volna, így 8-kor már kicsit idegesen járkáltam a guesthouse előtt, végül negyed kilenc körül jött értünk egy kis tuk-tuk. A sofőr még két embert kellett, hogy felvegyen, de persze mikor máskor rontotta volna el a címet, ha nem most. Sebaj, biztos tudja a fickó mit csinál, gondoltam magamban kicsit erőltetett nyugalommal miközben ő sietősen visszaballagott a megfelelő hotelhez útitársainkért.

    A kikötőhöz érve (ami három összetákolt bádogházból és egy öt négyzetméteres platformból állt) gyorsan beváltottuk a jegyeket majd felszálltunk a hajóra. A cipőket legnagyobb meglepetésünkre levetették velünk, és ez a hideg padló miatt fájdalmadabb volt, mint hogy nem sikerült két egymás melletti helyet találnunk. Ez utóbbi később azért megoldódott, egy laoszi srác önként felajánlotta, hogy cseréljünk - melegebb viszont sajnos egy centivel sem lett, ami a nyitott utastér miatt mindenkinek eléggé rosszul esett.

    A hajó haldokló motorját 9:30-ra sikerült feléleszteni, majd a kicsit dodzsemesre sikerült kitolatás után végre elindultunk. Ezek a slow boatok két nap alatt teszik meg az utat Huay Xaiba, az első napon csak Pakbengig hajóznak, ahonnan másnap reggel lehet továbbmenni a thai határ menti kisvárosba. A hajók egy nagyobb csónakra emlékeztetnek, keskenyek, laposak, de ahhoz képest amire számítottunk, egészen kényelmesek. Ezen a példányon volt angol WC, az ülések szinte mind párnázottak voltak, sőt még egy egész normális büfé is akadt a fedélzeten. Az egyetlen bajuk, hogy teljesen nyitottak, ez pedig az aznapi 10 fokos levegőben nem sok mosolyt csalt az emberek arcára. Az első óra gyakorlailag azzal telt, hogy mindenki a hátsó részben, a halomba ledobált csomagokhoz rohangált és próbált még valami plusz réteget magára tekerni a hideg és a menetszél elleni védelem jegyében. Abból kiindulva, hogy a helyiek pont ugyanúgy dideregtek, mint mi, erős volt a gyanúnk, hogy ez az időjárás nem teljesen normális ilyenkor Laoszban.

    Az út gyönyörű volt, a Mekong ezen a részen dimbes-dombos terepen vág át, amit mindenhol buja trópusi erdő borít. Elszórva tehenek, kecskék és vizibivalyok legelésztek békésen a parton, a legnagyobb település amit út közben láttunk talán két tucat kunyhóból állhatott. Tényleg meseszép a táj, mi viszont annyira fáztunk, hogy az nagyon sokat levont az élvezetekből. Ha csak tíz fokkal melegebb lett volna (ami még mindig tízzel lett volna kevesebb, mint amit pár nappal korábban mondjuk Vientiane-ben tapasztaltunk), valószínűleg életünk egyik legjobb hajóútjaként gondolnánk vissza erre a napra.

    Pakbenget délután 5 után értük el, a nap már jócskán lemenőben volt. A parton, ahogy arra számítottunk, számtalan helyi várt már ránk, hogy a számukra kedves szállásra csalogassanak minket. Mi végül egy orosz csaj tanácsára a kikötőhöz közeli Pakbeng Guesthouse-t választottuk, ahol gyönyörű péksütemények integettek nekünk a kirakatból, a bemutatott szoba pedig szép tisztának tűnt.

    Az este során még többször összefutottunk az orosz lánnyal, vacsora előtt is, azután is, de mivel nem akartunk vele piálni menni, illetve ő is kedett fázni (pedig Szibériából jött!), mi meg már nagyon vágytunk egy kicsit melegebb helyre ennyi fagyoskodás után, elköszöntünk egymástól. A szobánkban még gyorsan levezényeltem egy villanykörte cserét, de aztán már tényleg átadtuk magunkat a semmittevésnek.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Khouèng Oudômxai, Khoueng Oudomxai, 우돔싸이 주, ODY

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