A cruise along the mighty Mekong river is surely one of the highlights of any visitor’s trip to Laos. The gentle flowing water guides you through various landscapes that range from virgin forest, lush mountains to gentle rolling hills and textured, curved rice paddies. Of course, local life is drawn to the river, and a cruise is a great way to experience the daily habits of the rural population. On a river cruise, you too become an attraction for the locals, and you will be sure to receive a wealth of smiles and waves as you slip silently past. It is easy to get lost in the romanticism of the landscape and with relatively few other vessels passing, you soon feel as if you are one of the first explorers to embark on such a journey of discovery.
Holding a firm place in the region’s history, the Mekong River has influenced life in Asia for centuries, and serves as a borderline between countries at various points in the region. The name itself can loosely be translated as “mother of water,” an indication of its importance as a life blood for the people in Laos. Flowing all the way down from the Tibetan plateau, the Mekong passes through Laos, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea. Along the way, it picks up strength from various tributaries. The life of the river echoes the activity along its banks, at times quiet and peaceful, at others buzzing and brisk. As a guest aboard a river cruise you can sit back and enjoy the script unfold with a cool drink served by the helpful crew.
The magical Mekong landscape will dazzle you with its beauty: rugged limestone peaks, gentle greenery that in places seems to draw its life directly from the mystical river. A variety of trees climb into the hills, where you can hear the distant cries of exotic birds and animals. A source of essential nutrition for these animals, the river draws them to its shores for refreshment and sustenance, allowing the visitor to glimpse these creatures up close. Indeed, the animal life is an a stand out feature of a Mekong cruise, with numerous fish species living in the river, an essential source of important local nutrition. The fish are as graceful as they are strong, gliding along in the boat’s stream or fighting against the current and although very rare, i may sometimes be possible to spot the Irrawady dolphin playing in the wake. The whole of nature's life cycle is recorded by the river, magnificent birds overhead will even occasionally dive down like a bomber, catching their prey before making a quick escape.
Life in all forms continues along the banks of the Mekong, drawn naturally to the life its water brings. The river is also home to a range of ethnic groups and it is therefore possible to witness to a variety of villages and local celebrations on a trip. The local population along its muddy banks are known throughout the region for their hospitality and relaxed disposition, unperturbed by the lack of many luxuries taken for granted in the rest of the world. Smiling and laughter will often break the silence, as locals go about their daily chores or children play in the water. It is little wonder that many who cruise along the Mekong find solace and rejuvenation from their trip. An adventure for some, escape for others, a trip down the Mekong offers a rare glimpse into a century’s old way of life. An excellent opportunity to see something different during a vacation that will both relax and stimulate.
Original source http://www.vatphou.com/mekong_cruises.html
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