Mekong River, Laos
Initial Thoughts: I’d had visions of a quaint wooden boat shared by locals and travellers alike drifting slowly along a busy trade route. What I got was 100 drunk foreigners crammed into a boat retrofitted with seats from a minivan. In particular there were four friends from Newcastle, whom we dubbed The Geordie, who seemed to be on this boat, perhaps their whole trip, with the sole intention of getting plastered. They chugged bottle after bottle of beer and did shots of the potent Laos whisky which led to peeing off the edge of the boat, climbing on the roof, and having screaming fights. I was crammed into a tiny, claustrophobic seat, surrounded by loud, disrespectful foreigners. Not exactly what I had imagined. Luckily, the scenery just about made up for the disappointing surroundings.
Best Moment: On the second day, I arrived early to secure a more comfortable seat and found a spot close to the front with a friend, Jo, who I’d met in Thailand. She and I got to talking with the people around us who were as horrified by the drunken louts as we were. Over the course of that day, I became friends with Andy, Sophie and Walter with whom I would spend the next month travelling throughout Laos. My time with them turned out to be an incredible four weeks filled with lighthearted, spontaneous fun and I am so glad that I met them on the slow boat.
Take Away: What I learned from this experience is to be more open. More open to silly, touristy forms of travel. More open to meeting new people. More open to stillness. More open to seeing the beautiful world around me. I didn’t enjoy many aspects of this trip including the majority of the passengers, but when I allowed myself to be open to the positive, I found new friends and an incredible opportunity to photograph the Laos landscape as it slowly drifted by.
You can see more photos of my time on the Mekong River on the Global Locavore Facebook page!
Now It’s Your Turn: The Mekong River snakes through much of Southeast Asia and is a remarkable natural feature. While I only really experienced the Mekong in Laos, I think it would be an incredible journey to trace it’s path through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam! Normally I like country specific books, but I did find myself relying on my Southeast Asia On A Shoestring Guide on this trip as I visited many countries in the region. In particularly it is helpful to know about the border crossings, the visa requirements, the currencies and the highlights of each new country before you arrive. I you all my Lonely Planet’s extensively and would recommend getting one when planning your trip!