Slowing down in Laos

Our first meeting with Laos was on a boat – a slow boat. And it is called a slow boat for a reason. We spent 2 days drifting down the Mekong River, observing rolling hills, cliffs, dense forests and small villages.

IMG_8950 (2)Yes, It is a long journey, a bit repetitive at times, it can get quite chilly, the engine is really loud and so our some of the other passengers (day 1: drunk backpackers with a guitar, day 2: a bunch of teenage girls on a school trip). But it’s cool to watch the beautiful landscape and life by the river, and there is a bar on board selling plenty of BeerLao. Besides, after having later traveled by bus in Laos I can only say: give me the slow boat any day.

The boats have been upgraded in recent years and wooden benches have been replaced with much more comfortable old car seats. Try to get forward-facing seats near the front of the boat – the engine noise in the back is unbearable.

settle down and get comfortable – this is your home for the next two days

driver’s seat

back of the boat – ask a friend to drill few holes in a wall next to you while you look at this photo for the correct sound effect

The river is flanked by lush green hills and distinctive peaks.

Every so often clusters of small bamboo houses would appear –  tiny riverside villages perched on the steep banks.  Many of the villages seemed to only be accessible by river.

The banks are lined with patches of grass, small gardens, fine sand beaches and rocky cliffs.

Shortly before the sunset we pulled into little Pakbeng – the halfway point and our stop for the night.

morning alms in Pakbeng

they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day

In the morning of day 2 everybody was running to the boats to get a good place…

dibs on the third row on the left side!

…the boats were waiting…

…but i guess somebody always oversleeps…

stop the boat!

may I see your ticket, please?

On the second day the sun was shining into the boat, Mekong was flowing quietly with water the color of coffee with cream, and it was easy to love slowly drifting down the river  with a good book in hand.Sometimes the only way to tell we were passing a village was a golden temple roof reflecting the sun between the tree tops.

Every so often we would stop to drop off supplies and pick up locals heading into Luang Prabang.

is this the 9 a.m. boat to Luang Prabang?

wait for us!

After a long day, the boat journey finally ended a short tuk tuk ride outside of Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang is just a short tuk tuk ride from here

Sometimes it is good to slow down. Welcome to Laos!

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