Nam Ou River Trip 10th – 12 Feb

We arrived at the office at 8:30. I was expecting the usual pre-trip delays, but we were met with a “have you had breakfast?”. We had. “Okay, we’re all ready, let’s go.” Gosh, well I guessed that an 8:30 start would mean an early finish. The boats were ‘Tri-Yaks’, two doubles and a single. A triyak is like an open canoe. You sit on the molded body of the boat. It means that the boat can not fill up with water, you don’t need to know how to roll. The safety talk consisted of telling Jacob not to hit his sister with the paddle (very sensible) and we were off. Concerned at this lack of health and safety I proceeded to tell the children some safety tips for the next 1/2 hour or so while we paddled down the river. I think Louise got a got grip on it as she said that we should just try not to fall out. My talk was more interesting (to me) but I guess that was the jist of it. The mists began to clear by about 11 and the heat started to build. We were ready to stop by 12:30 for lunch. We found a nice beach and got shelter under a big tree. Jungle surrounded us crowding the river banks with massive trees. The one we were under had leaves stretching to a metre. They made a good table to place the food. We tucked into some fab sticky rice and curry vegetables. Sticky rice makes a great travelling; food as you can pick good lumps of the stuff up, dip it in a flavouring and chew on it. When ever I tried to cook sticky rice I never got it that sticky, I have a new challenge. Thinking we had done well, I asked the fatal question of our guide; how far left? He thought we had done less than half! I watched the kids playing in the water an wondered what to do. I thought we could push on a bit more, so we swapped around boats; Angela got the single, Jacob came with me and Louise went with the guide. We paddled through the afternoon till around 5. It was a long day. What surprised me was the amount of paddling we had to do. I knew that we were going down stream so why when we stopped would I drift back up the river? Some of the water seemed to feel thicker than others whilst the afternoon wind just wanted to play with us, but like any wind always seemed to be our faces. We stopped in a remote Akari village. With no T.V. we soon had a bunch of children’s;faces at the chief’s house window were we were to stay. Our moves were commented on and laughter ensued when ever we did something of particular interest – like try to use chop sticks. The village seemed to have two industries in addition to farming. Weaving, done by the women and distilling, a mans job. Following the gender roles set by our hosts I went off to see how the stills worked, whilst Angela went to look at the weaving. It all looked quite easy, a boiler and condenser were oil drums with a wood fire underneath. I wonder if I could combine one with my sauna mk.III. I found Angela 30 minutes later with a whole bunch of cloth, me, well I had the hiccups.
The next day was another prompt start. We were promised rapids so Jacob grabbed the single and I got to go with Angela. we made good time and Jacob had a blast batting through the white water. He kept going for most of the day, but I swapped into the single around 3 so I could have a go over the rapids. I was not too impressed that we had done most of them and all that remained was a 3 hour slog to reach the next stop. Now, I would like to say that when we booked the trip we were told that we did not have set places to stop and there would be plenty of time to stop and play around. Our guide had destination fixation. He wanted to reach the designated places. We arrived late and very tired. We had words, I don’t think he saw any problem in what we were doing.
The last day we told him that we would stop at 4. There were two rapids very early on, I had a tussle with Jacob over who should go in the single. Angela said she was a bit nervous, like a shot Jacob was in saying how I should look after his mum – grrr. The rapids were a choppy 2. we shot the first no probs. The second set we went through ok until we thought we had better check to see how Jacob was. There he was, massive grin on his face trying to steer over the biggest drop off. Shouting ensued, but of course you can not shout over the din of the water. He of course ran it no problem. We turned to see a whirlpool just to the side. Our boat had driffted sideways on to the current, we were going in. I found it very exciting, the water was very fast, all we could do was hang onto our boat and try to keep the paddles, we did. I bounced around with a grin on my face, Angela managed to snag a rock or two. After a couple of minutes we had completed the rapids and managed to climb back into the Triyak. I lost my expensive Oakleys but was grinning. Angela fared worse and had some massive bruises on her arm and got whacked in the kidney.

I was going to write more, but since it happened such a long time ago, how about some pictures.

1 Comment

One thought on “Nam Ou River Trip 10th – 12 Feb

  1. Chris and Jill Vyle

    I am glad I am reading all this knowing that you arrived safely. Too much excitement for me the armchair traveller! But so glad that you are enjoying yourselves

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