Lexi and Hiro's Round The World Journey 2008-2009 travel blog

Leaving Thailand

Lexi enjoyed being on the deck

Visiting Hamong Village

Our great boat

Houses at village

Great scenery of Mekong

Hiro's magic show

Sunset view from our accommodaiton

Kids performing before dinner

Lexi with dancing kids

We left Chiang Mai and took a 3 hour bus ride up to Chiang Rai, where we stayed for just one night. We were intending to stay longer there but we instead stayed longer in Chiang Mai as mentioned before, and we were happy with our decision. We did enjoy our afternoon wondering around Chiang Rai and getting an early night for our 6.30am pick up the next morning to take us to the Thai – Laos border. 2-day, 14-hour boat ride was waiting for us!

We arrived in Chiang Kong in Thailand at 8.30am and it was a quick 1 minute boat ride across the Mekong River to Huai Say, Laos. Immigration process was easy and painless, it was just funny to see Laos charges more for American tourists! (Laos is the most bombed country in the world by US during Vietnam war). The Mekong River, at 4180km, is the 10th largest River in the world, and it flows through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam where it empties out into the South China Sea in Ho Chi Minh.

We heard a lot about uncomfortable, painful and unsafe boats to be on for 14hours, so we chose to pay a bit more to be on the nice boat. This river cruise was one of the highlights that we dreamed to do for a long time. The 34 metre river barge was comfortable with open air seating, a bar, lunch and drinks included. We travelled down the Mekong passing jungle, mountains, teak plantations, farmland and many villages.

We were fortunate to stop at a local Hmong village which is only accessible by boat. As soon as we set foot off the boat we were greeted by the local children asking for money. Our rule is not to give any money to begging children (painfully hard not to), as we don’t want to encourage them to beg for things, and they lose respect for their parents when they easily earn more money from tourists than what their parents earn for a year (average income for Lao people is US$400 a year). Kids also lose motivation to work as begging is much easier than working on farm or rice field. We instead donated some money for school and medical care at the village, recommended by our tour guide. We brought some bouncy balls and stuff from Australia to give to kids. When Hiro performed his magic trick with balls, he was surrounded by kids from whole town.

Back on the boat we had a nice lunch and enjoyed more cruising passing the most beautiful scenery, it’s amazing how you don’t get bored or don’t need to read or talk while you can just sit and admire this scenery. Our first day on the river was coming to the end around 5pm and we pulled up to our accommodation for the night just outside of the town, Pak Beng, where electricity is cut everyday at 9pm. Our accommodation was Bungalows perched over the Mekong so we had great views watching the sunset over the mountains. At night before dinner we were treated to a Traditional Lao dance with kids in costume and men playing the lao music. We were again picked to dance with them! We had an early night to start early in the morning for the second day on the river.

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