Friday, April 1, 2011


Last weekend the Zeph and I headed north, out of the city, to spend a few days together at the Rivertime Eco-Resort on the Nam Ngum river.

It was an easy and fast motorbike trip out there, and once you leave the now famous Road 450 and enter into the world of dirt paths you are simply on another planet.

Tiny villages, lean-to restaurants and beer gardens, people dancing outside their houses on a Saturday afternoon.

The lodge itself is nestled on the river. The food is great, the room was very comfortable and affordable. We went for a boat ride down the river and the Zeph was able to get in some Quality Fishing Time, although he caught nothing.

Sunday was raining, of course. This is turning out to be quite the dry season! During a lull in the drizzle, we crossed the river and went to see a shaman who cures people by blowing smoke on them. The lineup was impressive; the shaman worked the room and told jokes and swallowed the fire from candles brought to him by his patients. Then he would breathe into their water bottles. His little hut was filled with vegetative votive offerings.

It was lovely living the rhythm of the river for two days. The floating water did have the occasional garbage bag in it, but it was reassuring to hear the Village Head in the next town exhorting his citizens to clean up their act.

The river flowed. I can’t say whether it flowed quickly or slowly. But it was nice to be on it, a sort of Huckleberry Finn feeling of relaxing and adventure. People went by on boats, ferries – made by oil drums lashed together – crossed the river carrying motorbikes and cars. A time out of time, the magic of a geographical shift.

The resort is run by a very efficient Englishman, Barnaby, who is up to his neck in local culture and speaks fluent English, French, German and Lao.

To contact them: