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Chug along at a mellow pace for a slow ride on a long boat. Sometimes elephants roam, where mountainous jungle meets sandy shoreline along the Mekong River through Laos.

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This two-day river ride puts us in a different world, especially once we tune out the young, drunken Brits who blare techno music and shout foul language. The rest of the 70 or so locals and tourists on this narrow boat make great company.

Fellow travelers

Fellow travelers

The first day’s voyage ends at a dock in the remote village of Pak Beng, Laos, where finding a cheap guesthouse and a meal is as easy as saying “Hello.”

Pak Beng

Pak Beng

Barefoot Buddhist Monks stroll the streets each morning, for their daily meal. In this procession of humility and poverty, they bless the faithful with chants. Laotians place tiny balls of sticky rice into their empty bowls, with reverence. All is well in the present moment.

Monks receiving alms

Monks receiving alms

Once we board the longboat we are blessed also, as the young Brits are passed out/hung over the entire day. Their antics last night culminated into a domestic violence episode on shore…luckily nobody was seriously injured.

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Gliding back into the peace of the river, we putt-putt past limestone cliffs surrounded by stilted villages.

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The second day’s ride ends in the town of Luang Prabang, Laos, where we rush past the open air handicraft markets in search of the famous “night food stalls.” Several of our slow boat friends join us for this communal eating frenzy.

Luang Prabang from the top of Phu Si

Luang Prabang from the top of Phu Si

Luang Prabang is a walkable town, and stepping up Phu Si hill provides panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Mekong Riverweed "before"

Mekong Riverweed “before”

We love Laotian cuisine, full of fresh ingredients…including Mekong Riverweed (khai paen), which tastes best if fried and dipped in fiery hot red pepper paste.

Mekong Riverweed "after"

Mekong Riverweed “after”

Cafés and terraces in this town line the Mekong, and make for a fantastic spot to sip a cold “Beerlao,” during sunset. This tasty brew uses rice as malt.

Sunset over the Mekong River

Sunset over the Mekong River

Wish we had more than two nights in this unique town, but our time is short. We need to catch a bus back to the border and into Thailand, which is beginning to feel like home.  Ron Mitchell

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ann #

    Beautiful photos. Sounds like you are loving the culture.

    February 16, 2014
  2. Have heard wonderful things about Laos before too. Thanks for the vicarious river trip. On my bucket list to spend more time in SE Asia. Cheers.

    February 16, 2014
  3. eric jorgensen #

    Hi Ron and Mare,
    Enjoyed the post. Looks like a god trip up to Luang Prabang.

    I’m missing Thailand!
    Best Regards, eric

    February 17, 2014
    • eric jorgensen #

      good trip I meant

      February 17, 2014
    • Great to hear from you, Eric! I hope that you made it home without too much trouble. Yes, we enjoyed the voyage, a bit grueling two days of travel to get back south, but are now rewarded with our final week on a beach in Ko Samui. I have a feeling that you will be back here…Ron

      February 18, 2014
  4. Ron, I’m fortunate to have been to Laos twice, and like you, greatly enjoyed gliding down the Mekong on a long boat. Despite having feasted at the night market several times, somehow we missed the Khai Paen. Its spicy red sauce looks divine!

    May 1, 2015

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