Huay Xai – Luang Prabang in slow boat

13 Jul

The first ride in the slow boat begins in huay xai and ends in pak beng. The trip takes about six hours. The boat is cozy, all wood, about forty meters long and five wide. It has a flat roof and has sits for seventy people. The mekong river is very quiet and flat, muddy brown, about 400 m wide. Outside the river everything is green until the jungles meet the sky, which is usually cloudy. We pass some villages, once in a while we stop to drop and pick up merchandise. Sometimes there are small beaches and some water buffalos pasturing.

Pakbeng is a village in the middle of nowhere, which lives from the dayly boat full of tourists willing to spend money in eating and sleeping. We have dinner and breakfast in a balcony looking at the river. As in every place so far, people take out the shoes when entering it. At midnight I feel unconfortable about my shoes being at the main door and I go to pick them up. The next morning all the shoes are stolen. I feel kind of knowledge.

The second ride is as brown and green as the first one, and about two hours longer. I read some travel stories from my book “by the sit of my pants”. I find this paragraph from Pico Iyer’s story worth reading it twice:

“We travel, I thought – looking fondly at my heroic old friend – for adventure and fun, to get away from the drudgery of our lives at home. We travel to court hardship and face the dangers and excitements that are themselves a kind of vacation and challenge for us. We meet people for whom our presence is nothing but opportunity, to take them out of the sadness and difficulty of their lives. The smiles exchanged on both sides have something of a nervous edge.”

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