Photographer's Note

By boat from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang


I actually wasnt going to show this picture. But after Malgo's photo about her boat trip on the Mekong I wanted to show that travelling by boat in Laos has now become a bit more comfortable.

Today the boats are much wider, a bit higher and perhaps a bit longer too.
Now the long distance boats have two seats side by side on the left and also on the right. Theres a wide aisle in the middle so you dont have to stay in your seat all the time.

The luggage is loaded into the hold.

On board theres a little counter where you can buy instant noodles and some snacks. Also coffee, tea and even beer.
In most places in the country theres only one brand of beer available: Beerlao.
Beerlao, however can be found just about everywhere in Laos. So also on the riverboats.

You better dont drink too much because theres only one primitive toilet on board.
A rather dark little room where its best not to step into on slippers and youre advised to roll up your trouser legs a bit higher.
But I had seen worse toilets during the short stops of the buses in smaller villages in the north of Laos.

There were about 50 to 60 passengers on board.
The vast majority were foreign tourists and most of them made the two day trip starting at the Thai border. Just like Malgo did.
Between Pak Beng and Luang Prabang the boat stopped a few more times at very small villages that werent marked on the map. There one or two local residents boarded and they also went to Luang Prabang. Sometimes in such a village half the population came to the jetty while only one person took the boat.

I have to say that the interior of the boat in my photo here looks a little more beautiful than it actually was.
Appearances can be deceiving. But the trip wasnt uncomfortable.

On both banks we saw heavily vegetated slopes, while the waterfront itself often consisted of large boulders and sometimes remarkably large white or grey strips of sand in between.
It was strange for me to see such sandy beaches on a river.
My only other memory of natural sandy beaches on a river is at the rias in Galicia, Spain.

The trip from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang would take 7 hours, but eventually it turned out to be 8.
Despite the fact that it was a beautiful trip, I remember being glad I didn't have to travel a second day on the boat.
I dont think any part of the route was more beautiful than other parts. The whole trip I had the feeling of sailing through a fairly untouched landscape.
Laos was truly the most pristine country of my entire trip.

Travelling across the country (by boat or by bus) has clearly become a bit more comfortable.
Still, I think those who travelled to Laos two decades ago enjoyed it a lot.
When such a person goes back now, he or she will notice changes that may make life more comfortable now but still give nostalgia for the old days.
Whoever goes now for the first time doesnt have a point of comparison with the past and will most certainly love the country and its people.

It was my first visit to Laos.
I remember that I certainly would have loved to visit the country in the 1990s.
When you work, you naturally have to choose. You can't possibly go everywhere.
There are other countries which I m convinced that I was there on time.
I visited Myanmar in 1997, the first year that a visa for 28 days was granted. Due to a mistake, I was even there for 31 days. (Before 1997, a Myanmar visa was valid first only for 7 days, later for 14 days.)
And my greatest adventure was my journey in 1988 to the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen).
I believe most of the other regular members of this site who have visited North Yemen got there later. On my return from Yemen, I strongly suspected that I had visited my most adventurous country ever. That was indeed the case afterwards. Never have I experienced such an adventurous journey anymore.

Today three pictures in the WS.
In WS 1 you find a photo of something that has remained unchanged in Laos during all these years.

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5680 W: 17 N: 13739] (54875)
  • Genre:
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  • Date Taken: 2019-12-24
  • : f/0.1, 1/21
  • : , Workshop
  • Date Submitted: 2020-11-23 23:51
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Points: 36
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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5680 W: 17 N: 13739] (54875)
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