In true Lao style, Thong phoned us as about 8pm the night before he had organised kayaking for us to tell us about it. At first we explained to him that we were really keen to go kayaking with him in a day or two, and we already had plans for the next day…. then he told us that he had already booked the tuk tuk, invited his friends to come with us, and bought all of the food for the picnic lunch. So, we altered our plans and prepared for a day of kayaking the next day.
The Nam Ha river was even more beautiful than we imagined – definitely the most beautiful river kayaking we have ever done. The pristine protected forest in the National Protected Area lining the rivers edge was so diverse and the tiny villages dotting the shore were really interesting for us to see. We kayaked with Thong, Paet, and Paet’s aunt and her friend. Also joining us for lunch were the tuk-tuk driver, his wife and child (also Thong’s friends).
We were really surprised at how many rapids there were in the river and by the time we arrived at the confluence of the Nam Ha and Nam Tha rivers we were pleasantly drenched. After the bigger rapids we had to shovel heaps of water out of the kayak. We think it would be a pretty hard core river trip in wet season!
The picnic lunch was amazing, Paet stopped along the way to get some fresh river weed, plus they had heaps of salad ingredients from both the market and the forest and made one of the best salads ever. Plus fresh sticky rice (random fact: the stickier sticky rice is, the more recently it was harvested. When your sticky rice falls apart it is getting old!) and heaps of fresh fish cooked over the open fire as well as 3 different kinds of chilli – fresh, dried with salt, and freshly made shrimp paste chilli sauce.
After the picnic we kayaked to the nearby Khmu village to catch our tuk tuk back to town. The kids there were gorgeous and many of them asked if we would take their photos. It was an awesome day and we are so glad that we got to see Thong’s own area of the river. Our photos are here.