LAOS:

VIENTIANE, LUANG PRABANG, and MEKHONG RIVERBOAT to THAILAND

 

NOVEMBER 1998

 

 

Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday

 

 

From Cambodia, We went overland across Thailand, and crossed the Mekhong River into Laos at Vientiane.

Laos now offers visas on arrival, saving a week of waiting for paperwork in Bangkok.

 

Internal flights in Laos were difficult to arrange.

Fernando blew a fuse when we could not get out the first day.

We were able to fly standby to Luang Prabang the second day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of the mountainous Laotian countryside from the airplane.

The high elevation produces a pleasant climate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luang Prabang is the old Laotian capital,

with a beautiful location on the Mekhong River.

 

There are beautiful temples,

including the famous

Wat For

and Wat Lob

(still under construction).

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hired a truck and guide for the day,

visiting nearby villages to see

weaving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and metalworking .......

One man holds the red-hot piece of steel, while three men with sledges hammer it into a blade.

Note the two cylinders at the left of the picture....

these hand-operated tubes pump air into the forge through underground airways.

A closer look at the tubes show they are casings from 155mm Howitzer shells!

 

 

 

 

A Hmong village

 

Think these peppers are hot?

 

 

 

 

The last stop of the day...

the beautiful Kuangsi Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a reminder...

 

 

 

 

 

 

We returned to Luang Prabang and went "boat shopping".

Soon we found a captain to take us 200 miles

up the Mekhong to the crossing point into Thailand.

 

 

 

 

Then we bought supplies for the trip,

as there might not be much available

at the village where we would stay overnight.

 

 

 

 

The next problem was to get our gear and "supplies" down to the boat.

Fortunately we found these natives

who were willing to work for peanuts.

 

 

 

 

The two-day trip was great for scenery.

 

However, the constant motor noise, smoke,

kept this cruise at the "one-star" level.

 

 

 

 

We also regretted the lack of usable toilet.

Rob did the first toilet research,

crawling back towards the filthy compartment with the diesel engine.

 

He came back covered with grease and stuff,

and said the toilet was a BAAAAD idea!

At least he didn't get any on his longhorn cap!

 

 

 

First stop was this landing at the Pak Ou Grottoes.....

 

 

 

a sacred natural cave

filled with thousand of Buddhas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset on the first day.

 

 

Pakbeng Landing, at the foot of the village where we spent the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our "slow" boat broke down the second afternoon.

"Brave Fernando" tries to flag down a ride.

 

 

 

 

 

We later figured the captain was faking the engine problem.

He was cutting our trip short to save money!

 

He asked us to pay the full price of our "charter",

and bought us passage on another boat,

at local prices, for the final leg.

 

 

 

 

 

We transferred to a "fast" boat,

which is small and cramped but moves at 40 mph!

it was a crazy final hour bouncing over Class 2 rapids,

at sunset, without lifejackets!

We spent our last night in Laos at Huay Sai.

The next morning we crossed the border,

i.e. the Mekhong River, to Chiang Khong, Thailand.

 

 

 

 

Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday