Rummy on the River

Luang Prabang Travel Blog

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Passing time on the Mekong

Our journey to Laos turned out to be good fun and I’ve done nothing but enjoy myself immensely since arriving.  We took one bus from Chiang Mai, then a more local bus to the border of Chiang Khong, and finally a ferry across to Laos, arriving for the evening.  We secured our slow boat and set off early the next morning.  The boat holds about 150 people and ours was almost full.  The seats were terribly uncomfortable, just wood and hardly any leg room, but floating down the Mekong, watching the scenery go by, and chatting with everyone made it quite a treat for me.  The first day I met this family with two kids aged about 10 and 12 from California.  It turned out the parents are both lawyers who quit their jobs to travel as a family for 9 mos.

Our boat is in the middle being loaded
and are following about the same route as me.  So I chatted with them quite a while, watched them work on homework and was awed by how brilliant the kids are ��" so worldly already and very smart. 

 

Our first stop was in Pak Beng where there is no regular electricity, only generators until 10 p.m., but a really small village right on the river.  The whole town’s livelihood is based on the tourist boats stopping for the night.  The next day we all loaded up again for another day long ride.  This time I ended up teaching Rummy to the kids from CA and Alex, a gal from Canada, also traveling solo in SE Asia.  It brought me back to Budapest and the Danish boys.

Posing at the Mekong. I think I need to get rid of some stuff!
  A French guy joined us for the game and commented that he needed to learn my technique. I managed to win but I was also the only one brave enough to take up the whole pile!  After the game, I could hear the kids teaching it to their dad.  I tried some durian candy along the way.  I’ve been hoping to give the fruit a go, but after tasting the candy, which tastes like onions, I may have to pass.  I can’t imagine liking a fruit that apparently smells like rotting flesh, has texture like gooey cheese, and tastes like my most hated food!

 

We finally landed in Luang Prabang about 5:30.  John and I decided to join Alex and Rob, another guy from Canada, to find a guesthouse.

Abby on her gameboy wearing mom's hat
  They ended up getting greeted on the dock by Pong, the Thai owner of the hostel they stayed in while in Chiang Mai.  He was in LP to scout out a new location for a hostel here.  We settled in a place and grabbed dinner together.  One thing that’s been such fun about LP is the fact you know so many people in town.  You see everyone from the two day boat ride and the place is not that big.  As usual I’ve been busying buying some local items, but I’ve also been enjoying some local food.  They enjoy lots of sticky rice with their meals.  I’ve been fortunate to try this back at home as one of my relatives is Hmong, one of the local village groups here, and every time we go over to my aunt’s for dinner, we can’t wait to try her sticky rice and other good food!  We’ve also tried the local whisky, but I think that did me in as I had a rough day yesterday. Or it could’ve been the Lao Beers after the veg buffet at a street café.
Walking the plank - I almost fell in!
Either way, we had a fun night out but I paid for it the next day. 

 

Our first full day here we walked around and caught the sunset at a Wat high above town.  We invited everyone we kept running into to dinner, so there were about 15 of us eating at the street eatery.  Then we had drinks at a local bar, and when that closed at 11:30, headed to the local bowling alley as you can still have drinks after curfew there.  Alex and I caught a scooter taxi, or maybe he was just crazy enough to give us a ride from the bar.  Then we ran into my French friend from the boat and six of us played really bad bowling while barefoot until about 4 a.m.  It was a really fun evening for sure, but I was dragging at the waterfall the next day.

Enjoying chocolate on Easter. Pong bought his new hostel in town. I'll have to come back some day to see it open.
 

 

This waterfall is not to be missed here.  Tat Kaung Si is truly amazing.  We ran into the kids from the boat swinging on a rope into a swimming area and then hiked higher up the falls before making our way back to meet our tuk-tuk driver.  The drive there was also very scenic.  It would be a great place to bike to, allowing to stop for pictures and visit some of the villages along the way.  However, they don’t really allow tourists to rent bikes and scooters here as there have been too many accidents.

 

We do plan to have plenty of opportunity to visit some villages as Alex, Rob and I are soon embarking on a journey off the radar so to speak.

Alex got all her money in 5s, so it was a big stack.
  We are heading north from here, far north, where fancy tourist buses don’t exist and roads are rough. Our first leg will be by boat again, but it promises to be one of the most scenic boat rides in Laos, along the Nam Ou.  I hope it is, as the boat will take twice as long and costs three times as much to take, but we might as well enjoy the journey.  We’re not so sure what is ahead or how we’ll get to Hat Sa after that, but we want to do some trekking off the tourist trail.  So starting tomorrow morning I will be embarking on a real bush journey, but my company is great and I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful place to trek.  I have a feeling my planned two weeks in Laos will turn into three, maybe more.  I secured my Vietnam visa while here in LP, so I do plan to make it there yet, but for now, I’m taking it day by day in Wow Laos!

 

 

chrisrae says:
I think I'll find a spot for me to retire here! So amazing.
Posted on: Apr 01, 2008
jcullen says:
Chris- Aunt Doua said there is plenty of sticky rice waiting for you at home! She said she is glad you are in her homeland and wish she could travel there in the future, enjoy the trip and while you are there see if you can find a spot for us to retire in Laos. (When she was young growing up in Laos, you just staked out your "claim".) Lots of love- Aunt Jeri and Aunt Doua
Posted on: Mar 25, 2008
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Passing time on the Mekong
Passing time on the Mekong
Our boat is in the middle being lo…
Our boat is in the middle being l…
Posing at the Mekong. I think I ne…
Posing at the Mekong. I think I n…
Abby on her gameboy wearing moms …
Abby on her gameboy wearing mom's…
Walking the plank - I almost fell …
Walking the plank - I almost fell…
Enjoying chocolate on Easter.  Pon…
Enjoying chocolate on Easter. Po…
Alex got all her money in 5s, so i…
Alex got all her money in 5s, so …
Sunset on the Mekong
Sunset on the Mekong
John, Alex and rob above Luang Pra…
John, Alex and rob above Luang Pr…
Being silly with the local brew - …
Being silly with the local brew -…
Grayson swinging at the falls
Grayson swinging at the falls
More falls - it seemed to unreal t…
More falls - it seemed to unreal …
A local at the falls - I think he …
A local at the falls - I think he…
Below the big falls
Below the big falls
How they shade themselves while sc…
How they shade themselves while s…
Monks cruising through town
Monks cruising through town
A local in Pak Beng preparing rice
A local in Pak Beng preparing rice
Luang Prabang
photo by: oxangu2