6am, its a misty morning over the Mekong, the Pak Beng roosters are crowing, pointy little river boats zoom up and down the river in the cool morning air and a few scooters zoom around doing morning jobs. Yesterday afternoon this place was steaming hot, its in the jungle, its ever so poor but children and adults seem happy and cheerful, but it must be a struggle.
TMM has had to solve an engineering issue, he woke up at midnight because the shower wouldn’t stop running, the tap wouldn’t tur off so he cable tied a pen to the tap to hold it closed. He lives up to his name as The Maintenance Man.
Breakfast is at 7 in the open air dining room looking over the Mekong, scrambled eggs, beautiful little dumpling looking things with sweet potato and potato in them, filter coffee and french bread, its delicious.
8.00am we’re on the boat and heading off down the Mekong. Yesterday was about 150km on the river, today is a bit further. Overall we spend about 300+km of the Mekong.
Initially the mist is still hovering over the mountains on either side of the river, but later it warms up, steamy monsoon warm/hot but probably only 28-30degC. A euchre game gets going, Ginger and I organise a music trivia competition which goes on forever and we find out how big Aussie Dave’s trivia brain is, its enormous, he blows everyone out of the water, even the bonus questions. Its mad how much he knows and he makes me feel like I hardly know any useless information at all, and here I was thinking I had the useless information game sewn up.
Lunch is a lovely vegetable soup and a fried chicken and rice dish – TMM (remember him?) thinks its pretty good, strange that. He’s been quietly sleeping up the front of the boat all morning and surfaces for food and drink. Naa makes a dessert up, banana and a sweet coconut milk sauce, its pretty good.
The afternnon is siesta time again, it is hot and the conversation dies down as people sleep, listen to music, or just rest and watch the jungle and mountains as we push down stream towards Luang Prabang. We should arrive about 4pm
We arrive at Pak Ou Caves, where the Ou River joins the Mekong, its 34deg C and about 90% humidity and probably the heat and sweat temper the shortness of the stay. But it is quite old, lots of memorials in the shallow cave in the limestone mountain.
A storm is brewing over Luang Prabang, there is lightning, wind and rain so the boat pulls into the jungle covered cliff which is the river bank for half an hour to let it blow away. We finally reach Luang Prabang, head into our hotel in the old World Heritage area near the river. It is lovely, leafy, crumbling, a mix of Laotian and French architecture. Our Hotel is Luang Prabang Legend Hotel. The rooms are spacious, good air con, good wifi, good bed, good shower, a welcome respite for 3 nights.
A short break and we head up to the night markets for dinner, one of the most expensive places in Luang Prabang and a long neck beer and a Ka Pao meal cost 65,000 kip (About $6.20 AUD). We walk through the markets and TMM gets sidetracked looking at and buying stuff, he’ll never want to make a comment about me or his Aunty about shopping ever again. I buy nothing but I might tonight, the markets are quite different to Thailand, more local stuff, hardly any knock off stuff. I like it and its ever so cheap, even compared to Thailand.
A return to the hotel through the safe streets about 9pm. I decide to finish the days blog but a headache hits me, not sure if its the heat or the malaria tablets or what. The Bowel Queens (you know who you are) will be happy to know things are good so it shouldn’t be that causing the headache.
Next day – Things are ok, paracetamol does its job and I feel better.
A short comment on what i feel about Laos after a few days, it’s poorer than Thailand but the people seem to smile a lot, children seem very happy playing in the streets and the markets, there is a genuinley nice comfortable feeling in this place. The old town of Luang Prabang is beautiful.
Ciao from Luang Prabang – Pauolo
3 thoughts on “Day 12. Pak Beng, Laos to Luang Prabang – 6-7 hours in a boat on the Mekong”
So, a devastating day then with Aussie Dave’s talent. I feel for you Paulo but coming down a peg or two happens to us all from time to time.
Great trip Reid, look forward to reading about your ventures each morning. Not a trip I have even thought about buf sure is interesting. Safe travels!
Your photos are beautiful Paul.