Right: future supermodels, Luang Prabang Province.
From Luang Prabang I headed further North to Nong Khiaw by songthaew where I knew I could take a boat up the Nam Ou. In Nong Khiaw I explored some local caves and took an extended hike up the road passing through several Hmong villages on the way. There's rumoured to be a waterfall around somewhere but I never found it.
The boat trip up the river to Muang Ngoi Neua was not a particularly pleasant experience as they crammed us in like sardines and we looked not far off sinking. The passengers were pretty much all tourists. I got the impression the locals might make seperate arrangements. In any case that far up the Nam Ou, the river is the most reliable avenue of transport.