Home » The slow boat to Luang Prabang: Part Two

The slow boat to Luang Prabang: Part Two

Slow boat to Luang Prabang

The second day of my Mekong voyage began at dawn, a thick fog blanketingĀ Pakbeng.

After eating a baguette for breakfast (surprisingly, a local food), I watched the men preparing the slow boat to Luang Prabang. Life-jackets were being thrown overboard to add more room. I tried to ignore this and focused on the elephant that was crashing through the jungle on theĀ opposite riverbank.

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

We departed earlier than the previous day, settling into another cruise down the Mekong. The bad weather pervaded, but there was a hint of blue sky behind the clouds. Soon, the sun revealed itself, transforming the surrounding landscape.

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

The water stayed an ugly brown, but the sun reinvigorated the jungle. You could feel it all along the river, as locals set off on their boats for a day of work. It was thrilling to see the Mekong come alive, a way of life unchanged for a thousand years.

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

Laos family on the slow boat

View of the Mekong River

Soon the adrenaline started pumping as the river became faster and shallower. Bizarre rock formations jutted from the water, appearing to be from another planet. Some were sleek and metallic, like melted slabs, while others were rows of jagged knives.

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

The eddies by the rocks made the boat accelerate, the river surging and spraying water aboard. You could feel the Mekong’s power as the captain rode the current, keeping the boat from smashing on the rocks.

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River

Unfazed by this drama, the mountains watched us, squiggling up and down in distinctive “S” shapes. But the most memorable moment came when we passed the famous Pak Ou caves. This natural monument looked imposing from the boat, a sheer limestone karst that towered over the river.

View of the Mekong River

View of the Mekong River
Not long after this, we docked anti-climatically near Luang Prabang. The slow boat trip had been absolutely worth it, but the good vibes quickly faded.

View of the Mekong River

Within minutes of landfall we were ripped-off by the tuk-tuk mafia who charged extortionate prices into town. This was the first of many disappointments in Luang Prabang, which would become one of my least favourite places in all of Asia.

Have you taken the slow boat to Luang Prabang? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

One comment

  1. Gma says:

    That was an exciting ride Dan. Noticed some stilts in one of the shots.As kids stilts were a favorite pass time for us, made by my Dad, your Great Grandad. Loved the rock formations. No doubt lots of stories in those peaks!

    As always blessings and peace.

    Gma xx

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