Snaking through some of the most culturally significant parts of Laos, the Mekong River is alive with history and importance for the local population. A boat trip along its murky waters is one of the best ways to immerse oneself in the stories of the area and its people. Dramatic limestone mountains overlook the river and its inhabitants, and act as the perfect backdrop while sitting back on a handsomely refurbished teakwood ferry. The gentle trip is a gateway into the region’s past and to the people of today.
Life aboard the ship matches that along the Mekong: peaceful and friendly. An attentive crew work around the clock ensuring the smooth running of all operations to do with the trip. Healthy and traditionally cooked Lao meals will satisfy the pickiest of palates. Delicious Thai and Vietnamese dishes are also available, along with a wide selection of refreshing drinks. An open-air deck is perfect for unimpeded views and picture taking, and if the sun gets too strong, one can always opt for the comfort of the shaded deck. Both are fully furnished with lounge chairs and tables. Additional comfort is supplied with air conditioned rooms and private toilets.
A boat trip such as those offered through Vat Pou cruises also allow for stops to see important historical sites such as the stunning pre-Ankorian Vat Phou or the 9th century Oum Muong ruins, dedicated to Rudani, a consort of Shiva. Some cruises also visit the wonderfully peaceful 4000 islands. These desolate pockets of land pepper the water, sometimes only having the space to support a single tree. Like a reverse oasis, it is as unique as is it charming. A further benefit to the area is the opportunity to see the extremely rare Irrawaddy dolphin. Their creaks and clicks can be heard across the water, as they communicate with each other.
The river cruise unfolds gently, time slowly unwinding its spool, and as the moments fade away, so the scenes gradually change and the Mekong takes on different personas. In places the river widens to lake-sized proportions, tame and humble. As the tributaries renew its energy, counter flows develop and turbulent eddies rise from the depths below. This dynamism is reflected in the life outside the boundaries of the river. In the calm moments, local families bathe and play in the still waters, yet the more rapidly flowing areas serve as a useful spot to wash up.
The full scope of the experience is especially dramatic for those coming from a bustling city. The pace of life along the Mekong is a soothing change, allowing one to deeply relax and to appreciate the timeless past as it merges with the present. Life along these banks has not changed in centuries. A cruise down the waters is a glimpse into a simpler life, and an experience not to be forgotten.
Original source http://www.vatphou.com/mekong_boat_trip.html
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