At the Teak Garden Riverfront Hotel in Chiangkhong we got our first glimpse of the Mekong River and Laos on the far bank. The hotel was very comfortable with a lovely terrace complete with infinity pool overlooking the river. The Mekong itself is wide, rather brown and has a surprisingly swift and strong current which may account for why few boats seem to ply the river this far north.
The following morning we arrived bright and early at the border for the crossing into Laos. There were no queues so it was fairly easy and painless – the Lao officials stamped us in with minimal fuss. At the border we also met a few other people who would be our on-board companions for the next couple of days. Luckily they all seemed to be fun people who were looking forward to the trip as much as we were. They also had interesting travel stories to tell!
Julie and Kate; fun loving and feisty Canadians from Winnipeg who are travelling around SE Asia for around 3 months. They are also writing a blog, and looking at their beautiful and artistic photos has encouraged us to up our game!
The Hartshorns – an amazing family of 6 from Seattle, USA who are world travelling for 14 whole months! http://www.hartshornhopscotch.com. We really admire how Mum, Anya and Dad, Michael are managing parenting, organising, home schooling and still making sure everyone has a great time. Of course it helps that their 4 boys are all fully engaged and committed to the family goals for their incredible year!
Through Northern Laos the Mekong River flows between unspoiled, wild landscapes with few signs of human habitation. The banks are often steep and rocky with dangerous outcrops on either side of the river. At this time of year the water swirls and eddies over the stony bed and from time to time we saw scary whirlpools close to the boat. Our captain had to concentrate carefully on his route and on one occasion when everyone surged to one side of the boat for a good view, he urgently shouted for the passengers to sit down and re-balance the boat. For us, the 2 day journey was a delight. You could sit gazing out at the scenery, read or play games or chat with fellow travellers. Our boat host and crew provided plenty of hot and cool drinks or fruit snacks, as well as a delicious local lunch.