Sunset Guesthouse is in Ban Sop Houn, the village across the bridge over the Nam Ou river from Nong Khiaw proper (aka. Muang Ngoi, not to be confused with Muang Ngoi Neua, an hour away upriver). The cat had contacted the owner (who can speak Lao, Thai, French & English) a month beforehand by email to sunsetgh2 at hotmail dot com:
Dear [cat name],
We are very happy to see your plan (you can find the boat in Hatsa). My GH Sunset DBL: 03 US$/night twin: 05 US$/night. ld and hot shower outside the bedroom and toilette. Bungalows is DBL:20 US$ + ABF, toilette inside the room with great view to the Nam Ou river
You have good idea easy slow boat from Phonsaly to Moungkhao neet cost is 80 US$ for one boat Moungkhao to Nongkiew is 80 us$ and from NK to LPQ is 100 us$. Hope you come down from Hatsa to MK than MK to NK and to LPQ all the time is possible.
For go up from NK to MK and to Hatsa boat not everyday the boat go. Few people they dont go to MK or call me when you need contact with the boat driver, I can help you anytime is my mobile phone: 856-20-XXXXXXX & 856-20-YYYYYYY fax:856-ZZZZZZZZ
[Mr Sunset Guesthouse]
Phone & fax numbers in the above websites (including the travelfish site) are outdated. If the above email address doesn't work, you may ask the cat at 'e dot little dot straycat at gmail dot com' for the phone/fax numbers. When emailing them, bear in mind that Nong Khiaw's electricity supply can call in sick anytime without warning ;) Hence replies might take a few days.
The above prices were for chartering an entire boat. When he found out that the cat was travelling alone:
Dear [cat name],
Don't matter you can travelling by yourself. But you can take boat from Phonsaly to Hatsa Neua to Mounghhao 70.000K and Moungkhaow to NK cost is 60.000K. Any place when you don't have boat you can take the songthaew quite cheap for the price. And for Nongkhiaw, now they have bus from LPQ departure time is 10:00am and after there are songtheaw 01 or 02 for Nongkhiaw 140 KM about 4H arrival.
Hope to see you soon
With best regards
[Mr Sunset Guesthouse]
By the time the cat arrived in Hat Sa in Dec 2006 the boat fare to Muang Khua had gone up to 80,000kip. & as of mid-2007 it had gone up further to 100,000kip for both Hat Sa-Muang Khua & Muang Khua-Nong Khiaw due to escalating fuel prices (Middle East uncertainty, southeast USA hurricane season, impact of extreme weather on energy demands for summer cooling & winter heating, etc). & as of late Oct 2007 oil prices have breached the USD90/barrel mark. The cat feels sorry for the Nam Ou boat drivers who have to put up with tourists insisting on prices stated in the 2005 edition of the blue backpacker bible...
The cat arrived in a fog-edited version of Nong Khiaw - all it could see was a typical Lao river town with everything heavily shrouded in thick fog. While hunting for the guesthouse in the fog, it took a wrong left turn down a wrong path & found itself in someone's backyard with chickens pecking on the ground beneath a bamboo & wood house on stilts...& standing there, it somehow felt very happy that it would be staying on this quieter 'village side' of the river rather than on the 'town side' =))
Sunset Guesthouse aka. 'Heuan Phak Ban Lao':
how it looked like in 2002
Greeted by reminders that it was Christmas day:
An exotic alien species Christmastrii falangus var. plasticus next to a native Arecaceae family species (above left) & two reindeer on a lamp (above right).
The cat's reservation had been recorded down & the staff had been expecting the cat to arrive the previous day (before it got stuck in Pak Mong):
The USD3 'single' room was more like a double, albeit with most of the space taken up by the big fat mattress. The blue bedlinen had a crisp brand new feel & a blue mozzie net & 2 blue quilts to go with it. Not that the cat cares about such things, but this was its first-ever encounter with colour coordination in a Lao guesthouse =P The woven bamboo walls are exactly the same as most of the Ban Apa houses - not the best in soundproofing but the coolest during the hot season.
The shared loo...
& the shared bathroom look unremarkable from the outside, but were the nicest (apart from Changi & Chiangmai airports) the cat had encountered since leaving Singapore to embark on this trip. Interiors were clean with pinkish tiles & a water heater more reliable than Nong Khiaw's electricity supply. The cat was amused by falangs rejoicing over the western toilet complete with toilet paper roll =P
more of Sunset Guesthouse coming up in subsequent posts...