Thong phoned us a couple of nights ago to invite us to go kayaking on the Nam Tha and Nam Ha rivers in the NPA (National Protected Area). We jumped at the chance to go on the famed river.
The Nam Ha river was even more beautiful than we imagined – definitely, without doubt 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 were really surprised by the number of small 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. 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 a fantastic day and we felt even luckier when in the evening we spoke to some other people who had been kayaking that day as well, but went with the biggest company in town (Green Discovery) and they were so disappointed that their kayaking route only went through rubber tree plantations. Hmmm, it really does bring home the fact that Thong at Forest Retreat Laos has such amazing trails and rights to stop in the best parts of the NPA. It seems such a shame that so many tourists go with the bigger companies because they are “in the Lonely Planet” yet their kayaking routes and trekking trails are substandard so the tourists miss out on seeing the real beauty of the area. Hopefully with our help, some of the smaller companies in town will be able to learn how to promote their unique features (something which is unheard of in Luang Namtha!) and prosper with their new knowledge.