As part of our itinerary with G Adventures, we spent two days on a private longboat floating down the Mekong to Luang Prabang, Laos. I think it was everyone’s favorite part of the trip, it was just so incredibly relaxing and peaceful. The scenery along the river was beautifully lush and green. I wrote the below in my journal while on the boat, I thought it summed up our journey perfectly. Here is my experience spending 2 days on the Mekong River on a slowboat:
2 Days on a Slowboat floating down the Mekong River
Day 1 on the Mekong
I hang my legs over the side of the slow boat, eyes closed, the sun warming my toes. Condensation from the giant beer Laos I’m holding drips down my hand and wrist. The breeze flows over my face, while the boat gently rocks as the water laps against the side. I am completely relaxed. We are somewhere in the middle of Laos on a slow boat gliding down the mighty Mekong river. It will take us two days to get to Luang Prabang and we are in no rush at all.
A thick wall of jungle lines the edges of the muddy river. Rocks jet out of the water along the banks. Dark clouds hang in the sky, heavy with rain.
Occasionally I look out and see a gathering of huts, a secluded little village deep in the jungle.
How they live such an isolated life, I cannot even begin to imagine.
People along the Mekong River
As we float by, there are long bamboo sticks that appear to be perfectly balanced on the rocks with nets attached. I wonder how many fish might be caught on the lines below.
I also wonder about the fishermen who rely solely on these primitive setups for food to provide for their families.
They can be seen wading into the rushing waters to fetch their traps. Young boys toss large nets off boats, hoping for a lucky cast.
Every now and then we pass smaller boats with locals racing upstream.
They wear clothes with labels I recognize from America, one even with a Kansas hat. I wonder if they even know what they’re wearing. Remarkably, some have cell phones in their hands. I marvel at the fact that they live so primitively, deep in the jungle, and yet, still have phones and clothes from the US.
I doze off and wake to the sounds of goats bleating. Off to the right, buffalos graze at the water’s edge. Strangely, that’s about all the wildlife we see. No birds really, no snakes, no alligators, nor anything in the water. No monkeys in the trees, no nothing.
As the river winds on, green, tree-covered mountains begin to rise up around us.
A thick layer of mist lingers on the highest peaks.
Overnight in Pakbeng, Laos
We stop halfway to stay overnight, where all the other longboats do. Pakbeng, Laos is a small village whose sole purpose is to provide shelter and food to those cruising along the Mekong.
The next day begins cloudy. We pass more villages hidden in the hills, goats grazing on the banks, and then out of nowhere: two boys riding a water buffalo!
Day 2 – Onward to Luang Prabang
As we begin to near Luang Prabang, giant limestone cliffs rise out of the river. They are incredible and unlike anything I have ever seen.
But still, I am in no rush to get there. I lean back, listening to the sounds of the river and the gentle hum of the motor. Just me alone with my thoughts, enjoying a lazy 2 days on the Mekong River.
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