We’d read about the tiny picturesque village of Muang La in which there’s a charming and inexpensive guesthouse immediately adjacent to the river that cuts through town. Hot springs upped the ante further and we were sold. The promise of little to do but river gaze felt more and more intriguing as the number of unremarkable towns with so-so restaurants and OK hotels we’d spent time in recently rose. Our obsessions about going only ceased when it was finally logistically within our travel sites.
We took the hour long crowded and hot bus from Oudomxay to Muang La, which was immediately agreeable, with its tiny business district of one restaurant and decidedly quiet side roads. The village has a great mountainous backdrop furthering its picturesqueness. Lakham Guesthouse was undeniably one of the most delightful rooms we’ve stayed in on the whole trip – no small achievement when you consider that our room count has climbed into the 40s. It delivered the riverside locale. A lot of rivers we’ve seen have been fairly muddy, but this one, the Nam Phak, was particularly clear, though a bit low. The room came with lots of nice details, to endear it further to us, like bamboo and paper lamp shades, absence of fluorescent lighting, high ceilings and comfy twin beds (we mutually agree upon twinnies from time to time when it gets too hot or if we just want some space. I’m glad we see eye to eye on this because it’s wonderful to have your own bed). Regarding fluorescent lights, it’s amazing what a (terrible) difference they make. A room’s mood transforms from interrogative, sickly skin, hang yourself immediately (okay maybe a touch overboard) – to a mood of settle in, get cozy, and stay a while. All crappy motels should address their lighting situation and business is sure to improve.
We had a swimmingly good time which felt reminiscent of childhood – swimming, skipping rocks, chasing goats and seeking out hot spots. The springs are identified by a local increase in algae and its accompanying oil with a side of undesirable odor, something you might liken to water buffalo wiz.
I mean..well, whatever.
After a couple of days we ran out of dough and with no ATM in sight, sadly had to boot. But we anticipated caves and village home stays in the very near future, and were happy for that.