This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution in the 2006 journey, click to the left or right of an image in blog mode.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On the Mekong in Laos

The driver and his tout

5th Oct 2006 Today we took a tour up the Mekong for 30 km or so to visit a well known and weird cave complex full of Buddhist shrines and two Lao villages, one of which distilled whiskey and made jars and the other made motif paper out of flowers and leaves.

The passengers

Another slightly faster boat passing us by

This was an immediate cure for the venture I had proposed which was to go down the Nam Tha and then the Mekong from Northern Laos because one day on the river tells you pretty much everything you need to experience - a vast muddy fast flowing river still not far from its monsoon flood line with unremiting forested banks with the occasional village along the edge. We managed to talk the boat touts down from an initial $75 US which some people were persuaded to pay for a charter boat to $4 for a seat and finally got snaffled for $3 each by a boat tout who had the last two seats to fill. This was vastly less than the $150 US it would have cost to charter a boat from Luang Nam Tha and saved us at least two days roasting in an open boat.

Heading up river

We traveled in covered 'slow boats' which will just plane but not like the freaky 'fast boats' which are passenger speed boats with a huge internal engine, shaped like darts, which roar through the water from Luang Prabang to the Thai border in which everyone has to wear crash helmets, let alone life vests, because of the frequent collisions and boats hitting submerged logs.

The fast boats which have the most dangerous ride right to the Thai border

Everyone has to wear crash helmets because its so dangerous

The jar-making village has great antiquity with relics excavated dating back centuries if not millennia. Both villages had multi-heddle looms which could make scarves and sarongs with both traditional Lao and more modern motifs.
Snake jar whiskey village

Mush-a ring dum-a! Whiskey and a snake in the jar!

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

Buddhist temple at the village

Houses making textiles

The loom and a weaver

We then stopped in at Pak Ou caves, old Buddhist shrines in caves on the cliffs of the river.

Lower cave with multiple shrines

The darker deeper upper cave and altar

Mekong panorama

Semi-circular video panorama

Finally on the return leg we stopped in at a village which made quite beautiful textured papers embedded with dried flowers, which we couldn't afford to consider because they would probably get seized by New Zealand biosecurity.

Scenes in the paper-making village

The postman delivers

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