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Mekong River -Huay Xai to Luang Prabang

Written on: Friday March 11th, 2011

A journal entry from: S/E ASIA March, 2011

On Wednesday we got up early again to catch the morning "sǎwngthǎew" -pick-up truck with a covered back and bench-seats down each side, which is the primary method of local travel. With 3 people in the cab, 14 in the seats, and 3 hanging off the back of the truck, there were 20, plus baggage and packages on the roof. This 53km. trip took 3 hours to Chiang Khong -the Thai border crossing town to Laos. We took a long-tail boat across the Mekong to the Lao border town of Huay Xai. It feels good to be back in Laos again -just something a little more "laid back" and quaint about it.

Thursday morning found us waiting for the 12 noon departure of the 2 day slowboat trip on the Mekong from HuayXai to Pak Beng to Luang Prabang -a long, narrow river boat with seats for 100, jammed full with probably 130 people. Fortunately we booked our tickets early and were guaranteed good seats, but some of those who arrived late were relegated to the floor and the engine-room -not a fun 6hr. trip for them! But we had a very comfortable, relaxing, and beautiful trip enjoying the scenery and getting a glimpse of the people's life on the river, fishing, farming, washing, and children splashing & playing. The river is quite low at this dry time of year, so the huge river-rocks are exposed, and there are huge sand-banks along the sides which would all be covered at high water.  Arriving just before sunset at the 1/2 way point, we spend the night in the village of Pak Beng, full of guesthouses and restaurants catering to the tourists. The second day of the trip was equally enjoyable and interesting. After a leisurly 8hr. "cruise" we arrived at the beautiful, World Heritage city of Luang Prabang, Laos.