There are 2 places in Muang Noi where theft occurs frequently. One is banana cafe, another a set of bungalows right next to the stairs that take you up from the river (right side). When I was there, an Israeli couple was robbed as they were sleeping (next to the boarding). They had travel insurance for that, but the cop refused to sign the statement because he is corrupt and likely in cahoots with the thieves. A source I cannot identify told me that the thieves in both cases are the owners.
What's the big deal about Muang Noi? I don't know, I guess the trekking is pretty good. I made the wrong choice and went fishing throught the laoyouth office. They're a bunch of a..holes too. They set us up with a guide who said no word in english and could hardly catch s^&t. Then I got really sick from a waterborne parasite and I'm writing this with some sense of bitterness from a hospital in Bangkok. That's right, I had to be airlifted. The Laos doctor who graciously allowed me in after 3 hours of waiting, while he yapped about who knows what to his nurses, could not help me. In fact he did not speak a word of English, that was in Muang Khua. I'm lucky to be alive.
I found Laotians to be incompetent and reliant on foreigners, while they run around worry free. While this may look cute on the pictures to the overstressed Westerners it can also be a real pain in the ass. For god's sake, in my 3 weeks there I never saw a single door that would close properly, even $6 a night room.
#1 mkolodziej has been a member since 12/4/2007. Posts: 3
Thanks for the warning, but for the rest I'm sorry that I can't be sympathetic.
Expecting others to speak English when you are NOT in an English-speaking country is arrogant, and your attitude is offensive. Drinking the water without treating it is just silly, if that's how you got the parasite. I'm sorry you're sick and I genuinely hope that you recover quickly, but lose the attitude.
#2 JlyGrnMigt has been a member since 15/7/2007. Posts: 5
I have rarely read a post as ignorant as this one. mkolodziej, why don't you learn Laos? You were a guest in that country, why is it incumbent upon Laos to learn English, mkolodziej, why didn't you learn some basic Laos? If this is your attitude about the countries you visit, stay home and don't show your ugly tourist face outside your four walls. I would certainly suggest that as good advice if you are stupid enough to go drinking the water.
Fow what its worth, I live in this country. I have rarely met a more generous, hospitable people. I would much rather associate with Laos than the likes of you.
Bummer about the theft and your acquiring of some interesting new stomach fauna. Shit happens (well, in your present condition it certainly does).
These sort of things are not fun and can cloud your opinion of a place but I think you've thrown all the toys out of the cot and gone a bit overboard with this rant.
Firstly to state the bleedin' obvious. This is Lao and the Lao people speak Lao. English is generally not on the curriculum in most rural schools and a fishing guide would be hard - pressed to come up with the spare cash for English lessons.
"Overstressed Westerners" with ulcers and migraines versus "imcompetent Lao" with that unacceptable "worry free" attitude. Ask yourself which group has got it right there?
#4 Discombobulated has been a member since 16/6/2007. Posts: 9
Greetings fellow travelers,
Am planning a few days of chilling in Muang Ngoi Neua. Has any one else had a similar experience to the above reported theft or was this a unique experience. From all I hear about the Loa people, it would seem to be very unusual.
Enjoy your travels,
#5 grazee has been a member since 29/6/2007. Posts: 7
Just to add to the warning above - we were robbed at Muang Ngoi Neua as well in June 2007. They came into our bungalow at night, while we were sleeping and took my camera and money. We also couldn't get the police to file a report. However, it is a beautiful and relaxing location, don't miss it - just be very careful. We were complacent.
The rest of the trip was amazing - the people were lovely and friendly and travelling was easy. If you are worried about contracting a parasite like giardia - just take the appropriate antibiotics with you - it's a common risk associated with travelling in many countries - my travel partner contracted giardia but we had the drugs on hand and he recovered quickly.
In spite of the robbery - it was one of the best trips of my life and I would thoroughly recommended Lao as a backpacking destination!
#6 fenatravel has been a member since 27/8/2007. Posts: 1
I also heard from a few people coming back from Muang Ngoi having lost their camera. They could not even tell where, but it must have been done professionally. So watch out for these things.
I know the place really looks fine and so unspoiled, but as people see their visitors have so much more...it must have started some time ago.
As far as I know, and I just have friends in the area who will report again(local Lao), it is not a problem for any specific guest houses or businesses but a general problem. If you visit cave, sleep in your bungalow, go for a swim...most places in Muang Ngoi are not built by concrete or string walls...you can just crack off the locks and there you go.
Who does not want the risk, just stay in Nong Khiau (for example riverside bungalows) and leave your things in the deposit box, including your camera.
During my 8 years of experience in Laos I still believe and know...it is not a common thing...but seems to be natural thing that comes with tourism!
#7 marakusch has been a member since 4/4/2007. Posts: 22
I did not get the parasite by drinking water, I cut myself on the foot. I can also tell you that I make more of an effort to learn the local language than 95% of other travelers. It was the doctors attitude that got to me. He wouldn't even look at me when I asked him if he can speak some English and he made his patients wait for hours while he chatted with his nurses about whatever. Also, if you see a stranger barely stumbling around asking for a hospital wouldn't you go through the trouble to walk him 500m to show him where it is? I'm describing my experience relative to traveling in other countries and I found more cases of dishonesty and rude behaviour in Laos than anywhere else. Perhaps I sound like a pompous cowboy to you, but I assure you I'm quite far from it.
#8 mkolodziej has been a member since 12/4/2007. Posts: 3
Just for clarification - the Muang Noi you refer to above - is that the village about 1 hour north of Nong Khiaw by boat? Thanks.
#9 Lars has been a member since 5/10/2007. Posts: 6
#10 mkolodziej has been a member since 12/4/2007. Posts: 3
lots of different things going on here...
its a shame you got ill but i'd probably agree with all the other posts that seem to take issue with what you're saying. I totally agree with the statement that "I have rarely met a more generous, hospitable people".
I was in Muang Ngoi about 10 days ago. I have tried for 10 minutes to write down something decent and have failed. In a large G.M nutshell;
- my least favourite place in Laos
- the place was dead with most guesthouses empty although if it had been busy i'm not sure i would have liked it anymore. I sympathise totally with the g.h owners [well, some of them] as it seemed to be quite a desperate time
- It was the only place in Laos where i experienced children saying hello and then asking for money
- i know tourism is a big part of Laos but it seemed, from my point of view, that Muang Ngoi just didnt have much substance.
- I much prefered Nong Kieow. I found the river nicer, the town more 'local' once you walked 5 minutes out of the area surrounding both sides of the bridge. I enjoyed the scenery more here and thought that that part of the river and the surrounding scenery was much more impressive. Even though there were bungalows on the river front the view was not dominated by them as in Muang Ngoi.
I guess that doesn't really touch on theft in Muang Ngoi but i can see how it would be quite easy to break in to many places. .
If you do want to go, i wouldn't plan for more than one full day here. If you are heading north [i started from Nam Tha and went south] i'd think about going to Muang Khua and getting a boat 4 hours down river to Muang Noi - stay the night - then head onto Nong Kieow
oops, i meant...if you are heading north i'd think about getting the boat UP TO MUANG KHUA from Muang Ngoi!
you could do it if you headed south too i guess but i went to Nong Kieow from Luang Prabang and didn't want to have to go back on myself to Oudomxai from M.Khua
I also find the Laos to be friendly people. HOWEVER, I am also aware that, like their Thai brethren, the Laos will stiff you in a minute if there's an advantage in it for them, all the while smiling at you. Having said that, I have found it always dangerous to generalize too much about people. Cultures are not monolithic, and for every sneeky Laotian you find, you'll find one who'll give you the shirt off their back.
I've lived all over the planet for the last 25 years, and generally speaking people are people. You find good anb bad everywhere - OK, the Saudis were total assholes.
Their medical facilities are poor in the extreme. If you're really ill, you need to cross the border into Thailand.
#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Hi Mac, one thing I have noticed, when you go into someone's house or country and ignore or spurn the rules and traditions they have, you might be in for some rough spots.
Here are some helpful hints, Do's and Don'ts Take a look at 12 and 13, you might think about wether you can follow those suggestions before venturing past the border town of Thakhek. You can see what an effect someone has had on Christay's experience at Muang Ngoi by ignoring #13. If you're getting a lot of those false smiles anf feel everyone is out to rip you off you might think about it a little.
Keep writing Christay, it's a good vicarious vacation. Pretty funny when you spend a while trying to think of a nice thing to say about a place and can't.
I like the medical care alright depending on what's being done. Maybe not good for a cabbage but ok for breaks and cuts. Biggest problem I've had is them not wanting to take a chance of doing anything, they want you to go to Thailand and become someone else's problem. The OP might not of known he was actually under observation while waiting 3 hours and they decided he was going to make it after all.
I don't take pictures, and don't hump a camera around. I don't even own one. So I'm personally good to go there. Although I think it's foolish to be "sensitive" about having your picture taken in public.
What encourages begging is poverty. I have noticed in my travels, the poorer a place is, the more begging you see. It's kind of a cause and effect relationship.
I won't give money to beggars, as that encourages gang activity. But I will give food, and I don't give a rats ass who in that society wants to tell me I shouldn't. When giving food to someone who is hungary is some sort of offense, that is a reflection on the culture in question - and it's not a positive reflection.
Lastly, I don't go out of my way to irritate people in the place I am visiting or living, but I'm not going to tip toe around either. I've noticed that most visitors to the United States are not bending over backwards to avoid offending me either. Nor do I expect them to. As long as they follow out LAWS, all is good. Last I checked, giving food to a hungary guy or taken someone's picture in a dusty village was not a criminal act in Laos. Correct me if I'm wrong here.
#16 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
"Their medical facilities are poor in the extreme. If you're really ill, you need to cross the border into Thailand."
Disagree Mac. In the major centres the medical care is fine. I was just talking to someone a minute ago who said h had far better treatn\ment at the local hospital than at the French Embassy clinic here.
"Disagree Mac. In the major centres the medical care is fine. I was just talking to someone a minute ago who said h had far better treatn\ment at the local hospital than at the French Embassy clinic here."
That's not what my cousin tells me Rufus. Laos does not have much quality infrastructure, so it's difficult to believe that in a country as poor as Laos obviously is that it would have state of the art medical facilities.
#18 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Who said anything about sota? Where does Carol go? There are doctors and doctors. Personally I have also had better treatment from my local village doctor than from the sota French Clinic. The local village doctor is a cancer specialist, trained in Vietnam and has studied in Australia as well. When I trained a group of 20 or so mds and paramedics a year or so ago, many of them were well trained. Mind you, I AM talking about the city. medical care in rural areas, if there even was such a thing, would be minimal at best.
Carol goes to Bangkok. When her son had appendicitus she took him to Nong Khai for the surgery. I won't repeat what she said about medical care in Vientiane, but it was not complimentary. Certainly Bangkok is a great place to go for medical treatment.
But I have to say, here in Muk, it's cheap and while it may not be state of the art, it is competent and service oriented. No surly nurses like back home. Lots of smiling, gentle women and doctors who at least act as if they care. I got an infection in my finger and went to the hospital. Had a wood splinter embedded that had gotten infected and they removed it, cleaned it, gave me anti-biotics. The bill was 100 baht. I couldn't believe it. For overnight stays the VIP rooms are nicer than hotel rooms and come at 1,000 baht a night.
Lastly, the wealthy Laotians from Savanakhet come to Muk for two reasons: Shop at Lotus and go to the hospital.
Now you live there, I don't. So I'll defer to your judgement. But most of what I've heard (take the back - all of what I've heard) about medical care in Laos has been negative.
#20 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I suspect we are not very far apart on this particular issue.
BTW I have now found out how to ride into Laos on my bike, so when I get back from the States I might come by to see my cousin. Would love to meet you in person in Vientiane.
#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
After. I'll buy.
#24 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
When was the last time you were back in the states Madmac?
#25 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
To visit? 2005. I lived there for a couple of years in 95/96.
#26 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
AVOID! Riverside Bungalows - Muang Ngoi Neua
Please steer clear of the Riverside Bungalows in Muang Ngoi Neua. After booking a day trip with them the owner and his mother managed to distract me and steal my camera. There is no doubt it was them.
On a related note the place has a reputation for valuables going missing, and the owner apparently sexually assaulted a female tourist.
Riverside Bungalows are situated to the immediate right of the boat landing, it is a great location so please do not be tempted and walk a bit further on.
Not in my nature to complain, but this particular incident has ruined what should have been wonderful trip in an idyllic location.
#27 reginaldshakespeare has been a member since 29/10/2009. Posts: 2
i'm uncomfortable with these types of posts too, particularly the ones from people we've never heard from before and probably won't hear from again. it could be a sincere and well-deserved warning, but more often it just seems like an angry person trying to get even.
I'd say this is a mission for Somsai!
Somsai, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to infiltrate the Riverside Bungalows in Muang Ngoi Neua and ascertain the truth or lack thereof concerning the allegations. This mission requires a Laos expert, so you were selected by our Travelfish intelligence team.
#30 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Muang Ngoi isn't my kind of town. Sometimes I'm a little hesitant of first time posters, but just because someone says something bad about a guest house, and the poster is spamming across the net, doesn't mean that the problem with the guest house isn't real. I'm pretty slow to call BS on a poster. This is a web site for tourists, not guest house owners.
The shear number of complaints of problems in Muang Ngoi Nua over the years about rivals Vang Vien. Granted some are probably so high they'd lose their asses if they weren't attached. But if I were a reader, and were headed to Muang Ngoi, I'd keep my eyes wide open, wouldn't leave my camera and cash lying around.
I had hoped to leave this behind, but maybe a second post will help validate my what I have said.
Firstly I have posted on numerous forums because as you can understand I was very angry. It is especially hard to take after I had spent the best part of the day in his restaurant and booked a tour with him that he took my camera right under my nose. In hindsight I should have suspected it as he kept coming to chat every 2 minutes whilst I was clearly trying to read my book... I misinterpreted this as friendly. I chose not to take the tour the next day for obvious reasons, but incredibly according to a couple who did take the tour he spent the day asking them how to work digital cameras....
Secondly the whole point in these forums is to inform other travelers. These are not mindless allegations, by just speaking to a few locals in the village it was pretty easy to establish that this is not an isolated incident coming from him.
The warning was posted in good faith and I could write a very comprehensive post supporting my case, but I have neither the time or the inclination to continue referring back to what is an upsetting blot on my travels.
#33 reginaldshakespeare has been a member since 29/10/2009. Posts: 2
i was in muang ngoi around 16.11. (cca. 2-3 weeks ago). we became friends with an israeli-spanish couple that stayed in a guest house close to the boat landing (on the right side of the landing). i don't know the name of the bungalows. i received a mail from the couple few days ago that somebody broke into their bungalow while they were having dinner and stole all the valuables (cameras, electronic stuff, etc.).
so it seems to happen quite often!
#34 saso has been a member since 6/10/2009. Posts: 10