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.
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.
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.
However, I’m pleased to say all the ass-numbing discomfort was well worth it.
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.
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.
The boat shot a few rapids, soaking passengers and swamping the boat on one occasion, but that was more exciting than dangerous.
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.
See the trailer for 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.
For POWs and MIAs in Laos, see:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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