For many travellers to Laos, a trip down the Mekong River is the pinnacle of their whole trip. History drips from every vista as the lovingly refurbished ferry makes its way down the river that has been a source of life for centuries. Indeed, not much has changed in decades of many of the villages that line the banks of the Mekong. Daily life still revolves around the river without the need for the latest technological gadgets.
On board, the gentle motion of the slow boat matches the tranquil environment, and is a suitably soothing vehicle for transport, allowing the mind to conjure up past historical journeys.
However, just because you are travelling through ancient jungles and rivers does not mean that you can’t partake in some modern luxuries. Companies like Vat Phou Cruises provide fully cooled cabins, a well-stocked fridge and restaurant services to add a little more comfort to the trip. Should the mood to laze be overwhelming, the wide decks with ample cushioned seating are the perfect spot to snap photos from, write a diary or a postcard, or take in the sights, sounds and smells of the splendid natural environment as it passes by.
Onboard, the helpful crew are fully prepared to assist and explain the history and importance of otherwise unseen relics passed along the way. Their stories bring to life historical monuments, making the cruise that much more rewarding. To dive more fully into the history of the area, the Vat Phou cruises makes a few pit stops at some of the most important cultural spots in Laos. Local experienced guides then get their chance to shine, patiently explaining the general importance of the sites and giving important details for a better understanding.
Passengers aboard the boat will experience the 10th century temple complex of Vat Phou. Sitting at the base of the Phu Kao Mountain, the temple site is steeped in deeply symbolic religious importance. Originally a temple existed here as early as the 5th century, but the remains of what can be seen today are from about 500 years later. Today this UNESCO World Heritage Site remains significant for Theravada Buddhism.
The ever fluxing Mekong and its tributaries equates to a slow trip aboard the converted ferry. A world away from the whiney screeches of high-powered boats, a cruise down the Mekong is the perfect way to unwind and to not only learn about Lao history, but to immerse oneself in it. Life remains as it was, and with each bend, narrowing and subsequent widening, passengers can’t help but feel more of a personal connection with the Mekong River and its surrounding area and inhabitants.
Original source http://www.vatphou.com/slow_boat_down_the_mekong.html
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