SLOW BOAT THROUGH LAOS ON THE MEKONG RIVER
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Gliding back into the peace of the river, we putt-putt past limestone cliffs surrounded by stilted villages.
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 is a walkable town, and stepping up Phu Si hill provides panoramic views of the surrounding area.
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.
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.
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