Nagi of Mekong Slow Boat Cruise From Chiang Khong to Luang Prabang – Day 2

Yesterday we travelled 150 kilometers on Nagi of Mekong's slow boat. It was an enjoyable experience even though we spent a good six and a half hours on a boat. With nowhere to go except to visit the Captain's area, the toilet and to make more cups of tea. You would think we would have had enough by now, but no. We rose at 5:30am and went for a lovely walk to the river's edge.

Pakbeng was just waking up. People and dogs were out scratching and preening. Fires were being lit, baguettes were being filled for the many hungry travellers. Pakbeng in the morning is truly lovely.

We had a pleasant enough night at the Phetsokxai Hotel. The room itself was fairly basic but decorated nicely. The bathroom a little smelly and the cable TV did not work but thankfully he hotel had all night electricity which was a bonus. We had heard that Pakbeng was reliant on generators that only provided electricity for a few hours per night.

When we arrived at the hotel, there was a wifi signal so we were able to check email and facebook. Wifi wasn't available when we came back from dinner, throughout the night or in the morning. That was a little annoying. We would have liked to check in with the world prior to jumping back on the slow boat. There was some difficulty communicating with the hotel staff about the Internet situation. When we asked about the Internet connection the staff looked at the clock on the wall to check whether the Internet was available leading us to believe that the Internet is probably only available during certain times.

Breakfast was provided at the Phetsokxai Hotel in Pakbeng which was nice enough. Breakfast consisted of toast, butter, jam, eggs however you like, tea and coffee. Everyone had a bit of a pig out while hanging out with the happy and cheeky shaggy dogs that called the hotel home.

Scrabble is a winner on the slow boat


On the boat again

On the boat we went and we set sail from Pakbeng at 7:30am. It would be a very long day on the Mekong River today. From 7:30am till at least 5:00pm with two stops. One stop would be at a village where we could pan for gold, and the second stop for the famous Pak Ou Caves.

Surprisingly for us, it was quite cold. We were all wearing jumpers. Some people were wearing socks and beanies. It really felt nice to be chilled for a change.

Andrew went and collected our luggage from the Captain's room. We were both very happy indeed that our laptops were still in our bag. We honestly weren't worried about our stuff being stolen by the staff on the boat. We were worried about other people coming onto the boat and taking our stuff.

Nothing much to do now except make a cup of tea, sit back and watch the world go by. Ok, we were getting a little restless. I remembered our portable scrabble set. Out that came and we played happily.

While we were playing scrabble, we decided that the Nagi of Mekong needed to have an entertainment corner set up. A few board games like scrabble, chess and draughts. And maybe some novels and magazines although it can be hard to predict what people will like to read. It wouldn't cost much to set up. And people would be happily entertained.

At approximately 9:30am, the tea bags ran out. There were no more tea bags to be found. Anywhere! Oh my goodness! Luckily, we could still drink coffee. There was also a jar of loose tea that smelt like pot but tasted nice anyhow. Perhaps it was pot after all. I must say, I was quite annoyed that the tea bags had run out. We still had 8 hours of slow boat to go.

Temple, Peanuts and Buffalo

Along the river we saw a lot of small plantations. Kae shared his knowledge that the bushes were actually peanuts. I gather that the sand near the water level is great for peanut growing. Not much to do but play scrabble, drink crappy green tea and look out at the glorious view.

Yesterday, Andrew and I had chatted about the food situation on the boat, and had decided that the Nagi of Mekong should supply morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea. This is definitely a good idea indeed. Watching the amount of people going up to the dwindling fruit bowl was enough to see that we were all very hungry at 10am.

Mmm Fried chicken, vegetables, noodles, rice and soup

Lunch!

At around 11am, lunch was served. Just like yesterday, the food supplied was delicious and plentiful. Today's buffet consisted of fried chicken, a noodle dish, rice, a fried vegetable dish and a vegetable soup. Delicious!

After lunch sometime, we had a lovely chat with Kae about the Nagi of Mekong cruise. Two long boats run every day of the year. Sometimes up to four boats at a time. There is always one Nagi boat at Huay Xai and one boat at Luang Prabang. The boats still do the route even if there are no passengers. This is so that there is always a boat at either end of the route.

As we were cruising along, the air became very think with smoke. Burning off along the river's edge was in full swing that's for sure. We could feel the heat from the fires from our boat.

By mid afternoon, our scrabble set had been passed around to two other booths. Books had been finished, and I had scored an Australian Women's Weekly to read. We were also hungry again. There was not much left in the fruit bowl and no tea to be drunk. Sigh.

Pak Ou Cave Buddha

Pak Ou Caves

We reached Pak Ou Caves. To be honest, they were a little underwhelming. Nice enough and it was great to stretch our legs but definitely a tourist trap of sorts. One cool thing is that we got to see markings on the stone walls of two major floods - 1966 and 2008. So much water!

Back on the boat and Kae explained that no one actually knew how long the Buddhas in the caves had been there. The local people just accept it. We left the Buddha Caves with only 1 and a half hours of travelling to go. Along the way we saw a lot of naked kids swimming and playing in the river, oblivious to the fires burning in the jungle behind them.

We finally reached Luang Prabang. The Nagi of Mekong slow boat cruise was awesome. Sure their were a few things that I wish they could change, but all in all, a fantastic trip. I don't think I have been this relaxed doing pretty much nothing for two days before.

Kae gave us a little run down on Luang Prabang. Pretty much just so we knew where to catch a tuk tuk from to get to our accommodation. It would have been nice be if we were given detailed Luang Prabang maps. It would be very helpful indeed.

A hand shake and a photo later, we said goodbye to the awesome people we met on the boat and to Kae. Thanked Kae, the Captain, his wife and their nephew for looking after us so well and then we were on Luang Prabang soil. Yippee!

Andrew, our tour guide Kae, and Tanya

Distance travelled today: 180 kilometers. From Pakbeng to Luang Prabang, Laos. We only stopped once today for the Pak Ou Caves.

 

Disclaimer: We received complimentary Nagi of Mekong slow boat tour tickets in return for our complete and honest review - good or bad. Click here for more information about Nagi of Mekong.

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