I had been fascinated by Laos for years and while planning my 2012 RTW, I knew this place was a must. I simply could not miss it and well, my high expectations were not only met but beyond exceeded. I am always reluctant to go back to a country (since I still have 152 countries to discover, no pressure!) but I would somehow go back to Laos in a heartbeat!
Therefore this week let me take you to one of the places I loved in Laos: the Mekong River.
About the Mekong river:
- The Mekong is a trans-boundary river in South East Asia
- It flows through 6 countries (China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) and is 4,350 km long
- The river is a major trade route between western China and Southeast Asia
Random and funny facts about the Mekong river:
- The Mekong has many names… It all depends if you talk to a Vietnamese, a Laotian or a Chinese! My favourite is the Laotian name “Mae Nam Kong” which means “Mother water”
- The Mekong basin is the second most diverse area on earth, after the Amazon – 20,000 plant species, 430 mammals, 1,200 birds, 800 reptiles and amphibians and an estimated 850 fish species (!!!!)
- Even though an encounter is rare (not to say impossible as unfortunately thanks to us, this is another endangered species), the irrawaddy Dolphin is known to live in the Mekong river
If you only have 72 hours on the river, have fun:
- Going on a Mekong cruise on a very dodgy boats (You do wonder how those boats stay afloat!) – You can read, chillax, play cards… We were lucky to have a very cool group for 72 hours! It made our cruise even more enjoyable!
- Helping to cook the meals on the boat. This is one of the memories I am very fond of, cooking was done in silence with exchanges of smiles and giggles (apparently I am a clumsy helper!)
- Staying one night in Pak Beng – tiny town. Loved to let candles float on the Mekong river
- Having a homestay experience in a remote village called Ban Lad Khammune – We met very lovely people, kids were so cute! We were blessed 18 times during the Baci ceremony. We enjoyed their life for a day and a night. I was impressed by their rudimentary power plant we were allowed to visit.
- Discovering Pak Ou Caves before reaching Luang Prabang
Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!