Onward to the next destination – North Thailand, but at a leisurely pace. I’ve been to Bangkok and some islands but never to the northern part. Everyone carries on about Chiang Mai – so that is where I’m eventuallyheading. How? On a slow boat down the Mekong river. We checked out of Laung Prabang pretty early to catch the 7am slowboat. And what a magnificent beauty she is, and rightly so, seeing that I’ll be spending almost 10 hours a day for two days 😬.
I didn’t stay on the boat overnight, but in a quaint little hotel in Pakbeng, a sleepy town along the way.
Where am I staying?
By the time we got to Pakbeng it was 6.30pm and minutes before a spectacular thunderstorm – pouring rain, lightening and thunder – the works. BKV Villa is a 3 minute uphill (and I do mean uphill) drive from the banks of the Mekong. And the reward for being up so high? Stunning views.
The bedroom was lovely but dark, but I didn’t mind as I was there to sleep. Fluffy towels, complimentary water, loads of sockets. Nice. Along with what I’m realising are the standard Laos hotel room amenities – a fan, a good air conditioner and bum jet.
- Grubbiness factor: non existent. Or too dark for me to see
- Bed: 10/10. Comfy bed, comfy pillows and the reason for the high score is a duvet! No bed sheet, no horrible blanket (usually the standard issue), but a fluffy duvet. Niiiiice.
- Shower: 5/10. Lukewarm water, did the trick, nothing else to report.
What did I eat… on the boat?
Breakfasts was soft, fibre free, white bread out of which I made banana and PB sandwiches. There was this excellent Loatian tea too – of which I drank copious amounts.
Lunches were really good. One day we had a Laotian Minestrone with fresh silken tofu – jam packed with veggies – carrots, mushrooms, pumpkin and fresh herbs followed by a veggie stir fry with mushrooms, carrots, onions, chilli, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato. Excellent with a bit of rice.
What I absolutely loved was the local river weed. Sheets of mildly flavoured seaweed, topped with sesame seeds. Crispy, flavoursome, and easy to eat, I may or may not have eaten about 12 sheets.
Lunch the next day? More of that river weed, this time with a spinach soup bad bamboo shoot and glass noodle stir fry. I haven’t had proper greens for a while, these definitely hit the spot and I added more to my noodles which were also super tasty. Well balanced and textured. How this lady cooks such amazing food on the back of a boat is beyond me. But go girl!
What did I eat… in the hotel?
Breakfast in the hotel was lots of nice fruit – the most variety I’ve seen in a while, along with my PB. No complaints.
Dinner the previous night was included too. I tried the local Lao beer – very light and fresh tasting. There was another soup to start off, similar to the minestrone at lunch but this had potato. Just as delicious. Rice paper deep fried spring rolls – when these babies are hot and crispy (as these ones were) they are super yum. Crunchy, soft and an excellent peanut sauce.
I got stir fried pumpkin (omnis got the same but with oyster sauce). But the winner of the night was this yellow coconut curry with potato, carrot and green beans. Accompanied with some purple sticky rice it was a super meal. That curry was so good that even the omnis were fighting over it. Maybe their Buffalo Laap 😔 didn’t hit the spot.
What did I do?
Watch the same scenery going by for 9 hours a day for 2 days. It was very beautiful but what struck me was the lack of wildlife in the area! There were a handful of egrets and sea ducks, but absolutely nothing else. This river was like the Rio Dulce in Costa Rica – whereas that one was teeming with birds, animals and reptiles, this one wasn’t. What I did see a lot of were cows, goats and buffalos. Hmmm. What I liked though were miles and miles of forest and greenery.. hope that remains…
We also stopped by the Pak Ou caves – there are two, and upper and a lower cave, lots of steps but all very civilised with handrails and proper steps. The upper cave is in complete darkness, I needed a torch to get around. Lower cave has steeper steps and is better lit. I loved visiting these caves, and it was interesting to understand the various Buddha positions and what they all mean. Hands out in front? No violence, thank you. Hands in lap? Meditation posture.
It was really nice to relax and watch the world go by on this part of the Mekong in Laos, I’m glad I did it and I’m glad it was only 2 days – wouldn’t have been able to do it for any longer!