Ahhh, bed. After a long hot river journey we were more than happy to be snuggled up in our (very) small room in Nong Khiaw, Laos. As we slowly drifted off to the land of make-believe we were suddenly disturbed by someone putting keys in our door. “Hello?” we shouted in unison. There was no answer. We just heard muttering in what sounded like German. We shouted out again to the same response.
Then the banging started.
Nong Khiaw is a beautiful little town on the river Ou. It took us around 6 hours by boat from Luang Prabang. The journey was stunning if slightly uncomfortable. Because we were one of the last few to get on the boat, our “seats” were sacks of rice! Oh the joys of travelling in Asia. Half-way through our journey, I noticed that the water level in the river was getting shallower and shallower. Unsurprisingly, the boat came to a standstill and all the men had to get out and push! I never imagined that I would ever have to push a boat. Cars yes, but boats?
When we arrived in Nong Khiaw, people literally ran off to find accommodation because there was a shortage of beds. Karen ran off with a Dutch girl we met on the boat, leaving me on a bridge with all the backpacks. They were gone for ages. I passed the time taking photos of the local villagers going about their day-to-day business. Finally they returned with good news. We had two beds but in different locations. It is a small town so that was not a problem. They said that they tried everywhere and were lucky to find anything at all.
We quickly went to our guesthouse and dumped our backpacks in the room as we only had one day to explore the town. As we were leaving we said a quick hello to a group of travellers enjoying lots of Beer Lao in the guesthouse cafe. I wanted to join them but as we only had one day, exploring was more important.
We had a great day wandering around the town. Apart from the Pha Tok Caves there are not many “sights” per se, but the natural beauty of the area makes up for that tenfold. Every now and then we would stop and chat to a local. That’s what we loved about Laos. People just want to chat to you. They are not trying to sell you anything, they just want to learn about your home country and why you are in theirs. We did this so many times in the end that we ended up getting back to town around dinner time. We went straight to this fantastic Indian restaurant with another traveller we met on the boat. What can I say, it was a very friendly boat!
After a delicious feast of South Indian food we headed back to our guesthouse. The gang from earlier were still drinking away in the same spot we left them hours earlier. We bid them goodnight and headed to our room. After a quick bucket shower, (hey it was a $9 a night guesthouse!) we were finally in bed.
And then the banging started.
“Let me in!”
“That’s my room!”
“They have f***ed me over!”
The drunk German guy was shouting that we were in his room. We shouted back that he must be mistaken. After a few expletives (directed at the guesthouse owners I must add) he went away. I thought that was the end of it.
Half way through the night, I popped out to the communal bathroom and tripped over a body on the floor. The German guy was fast asleep on a mattress in the middle of the hallway! Thankfully, I did not wake him.
In the morning he was gone.
Later on that day we heard from other travellers about this German guy moaning about the guesthouse he slept in. It turned out that we DID have his room. He booked and paid for it but never put his bags in as he was having too much of a good time drinking Beer Lao. So he spent lots of his money in the guesthouse bar and his reward was to lose his room!
The funny thing is, further up the river on the border of Laos and Vietnam we stayed in the same guesthouse as? You guessed it, the German Guy! We quickly became friends over our great tastes in cheap guesthouses.
So the moral of this tale is always get the keys to your room! Otherwise, Karen and I may pop up and steal it from you!