2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slow Boat to Luang Prabang, Laos

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:

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

Occasionally I look out and see a gathering of huts, a secluded little village deep in the jungle.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

How they live such an isolated life, I cannot even begin to imagine.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

I also wonder about the fishermen who rely solely on these primitive setups for food to provide for their family.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

Every now and then we pass smaller boats with locals racing upstream.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

As the river winds on, green, tree-covered mountains begin to rise up around us.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

A thick layer of mist lingers on the highest peaks.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

We stop halfway to stay over night, 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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

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!

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat 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.

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang

2 Days On The Mighty Mekong River - Slowboat to Luang Prabang 40

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 two days down the Mighty Mekong.

xx Chels

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