Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Slow-Boating Up the Mekong River, Laos (November 12-13, 2008)

The 12th longest river in the world, the Mekong stretches more than 4000km from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea, flowing through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam along the way. In Laos, slow boats travel frequently along the river between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai, a border town with Thailand.

The popular journey takes two full days, with an overnight stop at the small riverside village of Pak Beng. While clusters of homes and farmed hillsides pop into view from time to time, the majority of the scenery is completely untouched. With a good book, a comfortable cushion and beautiful views on all sides, a slow-boat journey on the Mekong River is surely the most relaxing way to head for the border.
Slow boats are quite long and narrow; passengers sit in the front, and the family that owns and operates the boat lives and cooks in the back
The Pak Ou caves along the Mekong River are full of fortunes and Buddha statues
A cluster of boats by a small riverside farm
This photo gives a better sense of the sheer length of a slow boat; the village in the photo is Pak Beng
The small Pak Beng harbor at sunset. The village is powered by generator for only a few hours each day; most homes are lit with candles in the evenings.

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