Saturday, October 26, 2013

2 Days on the Mekong River

2 Days on the Mekong River Going Into Laos

Nearing the end close to Luang Prabang in Laos
The trip from Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand took almost 3 days including 2 on a boat and overnights  on the Lao side of the border and Pakbeng halfway. The Mekong is a big powerful river that flows faster than I would have thought. There are rapids to be sure, but not the big spectacular kind with piles of foaming whitewater, instead just a lot of volume.
Crossing the Thai/Laos frontier at HouayXiao
Bus ride from Chiang Rai took around 3 hours on a very rainy day. Sat at the back with the door wide open and watched the scenery go by. The fresh air was actually very nice. Got my Lao visa for about $35 USD and went up the hill for accommodations and food. HouayXiao is small and pretty impoverished, but not unlike a lot of little border towns.
Sunset at HouayXiao. and the Mekong River 
Next day they told everyone to be at the office for the ride to the boat launch, but we didn't actually cast off til around noon on another very wet day. There were scads of people including tourists and locals all jammed on the very long narrow boat. Nice to meet and talk with people from all over the globe again. One of the truly great things about traveling.
Suburban Housing - Mekong River Style
Some It's hard to imagine how muddy the Mekong is and how much debris is floating around on it. Lots of sticks and logs like you would expect during runoff and the wet season, but a lot of human detritus as well. We didn't see a lot of human habitation on this section, but the effects of using the river to play trash collector is pretty profound.
Cave and tour boats closer to Luang Prabeng
We got into Pakbeng just around dark and all ran up the hill to book accomodation in the limited quantities available. At least they said limited. I doubt anyone was left out in cold (figure of speech) that night. Next day we all got back into a similar but also slightly different boat and finished the trip in 7 more hours. I think everyone was very happy to get off the boat and out of the cramped quarters. Include me in that contingent. Luang Prabeng is very nice - tranquil and scenic, but I'll write more about that later. For now I'll leave you with one or two more images.

  Next: Luang Prabeng...