Today’s forecast: 37°C, very smoky 🔥
Mosquito bite tally: 7
Saying goodbye to Pakbeng
We woke up early this morning after an interesting evening, to continue onward with our slow boat cruise down the Mekong. We had breakfast at a bakery down near the docks, overlooking the river.
We had been told that the elephant sanctuary across the river sometimes takes their elephants down to the water to bathe so were hoping to catch a glimpse of them. We heard them trumpeting while we were having breakfast, but unfortunately they had already gone by the time we made it down the hill and bid farewell to the Pakbeng hospitality.
All aboard the slow boat, again
We boarded the same boat as yesterday and set off downstream. Conditions today were significantly worse than yesterday in terms of air quality. I could actually smell a faint whiff of smoke and the view was very hazy especially in the morning. On the bright side, I think this is keeping the mosquitos away.
On board, we were served a traditional Lao breakfast including fermented fish, water buffalo skin, sticky rice…and cicadas. The bugs are mashed up with some kind of seasoning and wrapped in what looked like betel leaf. My sister will be proud of me for partaking in this meal but I didn’t get a chance to take any photos for her.
Exploring Pak Ou Caves
Shortly before our arrival in Luang Prabang, we stopped at Pak Ou Caves, located at the intersection of the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers.
The two caves are situated within a limestone cliff, with access to the upper cave requiring a 5 to 10 minute climb up a steep flight of steps. Both caves are crammed with Buddha images and replicas brought in from all over the world, including some dropped off by tourists. In a few days when Pi Mai (Lao New Year) approaches, the Buddhas will all be removed for cleaning.
Saying hello to Luang Prabang
We arrived ahead of schedule in Luang Prabang in mid-afternoon. Apparently our boat was moving quite fast because it had an eight cylinder motor. We will be staying here for three days before we head south onto Vang Vieng.
Luang Prabang is a quaint city sitting at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. We have a full itinerary for the next couple days, and I’m looking forward to exploring.