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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

24 November 2018

Mekong 2

Fishing on the Mekong

Fishing on the Mekong

20 November 2018

Today we spent another day cruising down the Mekong. It’s a pleasant experience, but let’s just say that we spent even more time today reading and catching up on blog writing than yesterday!

We had two stops today before our final destination of Luang Prabang. The first was the Pak Ou caves, a place of great religious significance to the people of Lao. Alas, any spiritual atmosphere was very effectively dispelled by the jostling crowd of tourists shuffling their way around each other in the fairly enclosed space, trying to get just the right angle for a photo or enough space to be able to pose for photos.

Pak Ou caves

Pak Ou caves

Something I’ve noticed often before, there seem to be two kinds of tourists: those that take photographs of things they see, and those that take photographs of themselves. The two categories do seem to overlap – we’ve happily had our photo taken in front of some famous sites. But the vast majority of my photos don’t have either me or Maureen in, and by contrast I see lots of tourists taking photos of themselves standing against walls or beside trees, with nothing in the picture to indicate or remind them that they were actually near Machu Picchu or the Eiffel Tower or whatever.

Our second stop was a village where they produce “rice whiskey”. And for the more discerning tourist, they also produce bottles of it with small snakes or scorpions drowned in the stuff. It’s for virility or something, y’know? The rest of the village consists primarily of stalls selling local textiles and nick-nacks. I actually think the weaving looms are there for show, as the scarves and etc look suspiciously manufactured.

Overall I’d recommend a trip down the Mekong. It’s a unique experience, and being lulled into the relaxed rhythm of two days on a boat is part of it. The stops along the way aren’t brilliant, but they’re useful for stretching the legs and having a bit of variation.

We’re in Luang Prabang now, for our other three nights in Laos. At first glance it’s much more touristified than I had expected, with a night market 100% full of tat for tourists (I have never seen more pairs of baggy elephant-print trousers in one place) and a main street stuffed with places offering cappucinos, steaks and pizzas. Even a wine bar! We succumbed to fatigue and picked a safe choice for dinner. The “authentic Lao cuisine” was westernised to blandness. Better luck tomorrow!

Kids with machetes

Kids with machetes


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