Gliding down the Mekong

Luang Prabang Travel Blog

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Emma happy to be on the boat!

Yesterday: Day 1 of our boat ride down the Mekong River. We boarded our slow boat just after 10am, and it was already crowded and somewhat chaotic. Our rucsacs were shoved under random seats, and we grabbed the last remaining seat. When we say seat, we mean 'seat' in its most basic form, a thin wooden bench small enough for two kids! It was all a bit stressful. More and more people piled on, until eventually they started letting people on the boat moored next to us.  This was the cue for about 20 people from our boat  to jump across to find a bit more space. this was better for us as we were all able to spread out. Eventually both boats set off, an hour later than scheduled, at 11.30am.

It was a peaceful and serene ride, with some beautiful scenery.

Slow boat
We glimpsed golden temples and small villages with thatched roofed houses through the green forests of palm and banana trees. It was all very relaxed, with the only adrenalin-filled moment coming about half-way through the journey. We had come to a narrow, fast-flowing part of the river with rocks on both sides, and a bit of a blind bend. Just as we rounded it, another slow boat was coming from the opposite direction. there were shouts of alarm from our two drivers, who first of all had to avoid the boat, which they did by a few feet, and then it took both of them to turn the wheel again to avoid the rocks! We all looked backwards at the other boat and breathed a sigh of relief. After this we had great faith in our drivers to avert all future disasters!

We arrived for our overnight stop in the village of Pak Beng, which the guide book described as 'rustic' which was a little worrying.

Sunset on the Mekong
However, all was well, and we were soon ensconsed in our smart guest house. We headed out to a little Indian restaurant overlooking the river and had a veritable feast of vegetable pakoras, byriani and garlic naan. We walked back up the dirt, unlit road to our guesthouse, feeling very contented.

Day 2: Up early for a breakfast of eggs, baguette and coffee, and then down to the boat to claim our seat. Today the boat was much more crowded, and no second boat to jump onto. Nearly every seat had two people on. It proved to be a very uncomfortable journey.

We continued our journey down the river, passing more villages, and this time stopping at several of them. At the first stop, about a dozen Lao people got on, plus sacks of rice onto the roof and into the aisle! Chairs were produced from the roof and placed in the aisle.

Travel: Laos style! Spot Diane comp
Now it really was an authentic boat ride in Asia. We stopped two or three more times for people to get on, it was quite amazing!

The journey was wonderfully scenic once again. The river was lined with limestone rocks or long sandbanks that looked like beaches. Children swam in the river, there were fishermen slinging their nets from boats, and water buffalo bathing in the cool, murky waters. At one village we saw four or five working elephants plodding along the shoreline. At another village we stopped at, the children ran down to see us, and were obviously used to having their photo taken as they posed on the next door boat with cheeky grins.

Ten hours after first getting on the boat, we collected our bags, got in a tuk-tuk and checked into our guest house. After dinner (Diane tried the Laos national dish: Laap), we wandered through the night market, and found we really liked it already. It has such a relaxed atmosphere.

moorsideman says:
This mother has now seen and read it - and is still unconvinced !! The boat looks as though it is held together with string and sellotape ! When do you get back to civilisation? i.e. when do I relax again? LMP
Posted on: Mar 15, 2007
moorsideman says:
This is wonderful stuff!

However, it's good that your mothers will read this blog and see the picture of the slow boat after the event - now your safe!
Posted on: Mar 15, 2007
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Emma happy to be on the boat!
Emma happy to be on the boat!
Slow boat
Slow boat
Sunset on the Mekong
Sunset on the Mekong
Travel: Laos style! Spot Diane comp
Travel: Laos style! Spot Diane comp
Pak Beng
Pak Beng
Collecting our rice and passengers
Collecting our rice and passengers
Elephants
Elephants
Cheeky monkey!
Cheeky monkey!
Fishermen
Fishermen
Luang Prabang
photo by: oxangu2