Gliding down the Mekong
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 152 of 254 › view all entries
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.
We arrived for our overnight stop in the village of Pak Beng, which the guide book described as 'rustic' which was a little worrying.
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.
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.