A Spectacular Boat Trip in Northern Laos (and why you should never believe Backpackers).

A Spectacular Boat Trip in Northern Laos (and why you should never believe Backpackers).

Above Photo: Scenery on the journey to Luang Prabang.

Seduced by a load of traveller bullshit about seats on the boats being (and I quote) “as comfortable as aeroplane seats,” we decided to take a 5 hour boat trip back to Luang Prabang, along the Nam Ou river.

Some Airline...

Some Airline…

Having paid only US$14 for the privilege, we were unsurprised but still disappointed when our small blue boat turned up, containing only tiny, hard wooden benches along the side.

Some of my fellow travellers on the boat from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang.

Some of my fellow travellers on the boat from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang.

Worse, the boats are only supposed to carry 16 people, but this one had 20 crammed on board, along with huge, heavy backpacks. It was seriously overloaded, which concerned me only because I knew there were a couple of rapids on the way, although, as it turned out, the river was low and the rapids were nothing to worry about.

A similar boat coming the other way.

A similar boat coming the other way.

However, I’m pleased to say all the ass-numbing discomfort was well worth it.

Speeding along the Pak Ou River towards Luang Prabang.

Speeding along the Pak Ou River towards Luang Prabang.

We cruised through stunning, sunny karst scenery for the first hour, then the river was surrounded by green hills, mountains and jungle for the rest of the way.

Approaching choppier water.

Approaching choppier water.

There were no major villages en route and we saw relatively few people on the river bank, and only a few fishermen and fishing boat repairers.

Fish traps on the Pak Our River on the way to Luang Prabang.

Fish traps on the Pak Our River on the way to Luang Prabang.

Lots of buffalo too.

Lots of buffalo too.

The boat shot a few rapids, soaking passengers and swamping the boat on one occasion, but that was more exciting than dangerous.

Karst scenery along the Pak Ou river.

Karst scenery along the Pak Ou river.

Mountain scenery en route.

Mountain scenery en route.

We got to Luang Prabang just before dusk, hot, dehydrated, every muscle sore or stiff (or both): we were totally exhausted, but very glad we’d done the trip by boat.

Near Luang Prabang.

Near Luang Prabang.

Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.

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See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. 

For POWs and MIAs in Laos, see:

© Peter Alan Lloyd

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Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

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Front cover of BACK Part 2

 

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