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Chiang Rai, Chiang Khong, Houixai, Boat to Pakbeng, Luang Prabang; Nong Kiau (Muang Ngoy Mai), Muang Ngoy Kao (11 - 17 April 2008)

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Sunset view from Pakbeng
Sunset view from Pakbeng

I started to enjoy sunset scenes since I first made a trip to Indian-Myanmar border in one of my collage years. Before then it was just one of the usual constants in the dynamics of nature. In the life when you are struggling for a plate of food on your dinner table you don't think about beauty of sunset. For the people working on these Mekong river boats sunset might be just a reminder of the time to do something.

One morning in Pakbeng
One morning in Pakbeng

At 6 a.m. the lady owner of a small shop came back from the morning market with baguettes (French breads), some fruits and a basket of vegetable. She opened the doors to her grocery store. The shop next door followed suit. The mist in the mountains on the southern bank of Mekong river started to disappear slowly as if to show the new world to the people.

Pakbeng was such a small and quiet town in the early morning and late evening. In the early evening before sunset altogether 4 or more slow boats arrive from Houixai and Luang Prabang in addition to other cruise boats, private boats and small local boats. These boats would depart the town one by one in the next day morning leaving the town with mostly locals and occasional two nighters.

A Mekong boat and its people
A Mekong boat and its people

At 8:30 a.m. we were again on the Mekong river to our next destination - Luang Prabang. Mekong passenger boats are similar to one another. They all have a cabin or two for the family of the boat people at the back together with the engine room. The life of parents and children spend here during the river time. By looking at the clothes hanging at the back you can probably imagine something about the boat people family.

Ban Thaxoang village - the road to Hong Sa
Ban Thaxoang village - the road to Hong Sa

Ban Thaxoang is a village with road link to Hong Sa, Thai border and Xayabouri town. The road was said to be not very good to quite bad. This river boat landing village is the largest transport hub in northern Xayabouri province. Pick up truck transport is available here to go to Hong Sa.

Mekong river fish, Ban Thanoun village
Mekong river fish, Ban Thanoun village

We bought this freshly caught fish at the village to be later served as dinner on board. Behind the boy was a large iron body cargo boat. At the moment the boat was waiting for the logs being extracted somewhere in the forest several kilometers inland.

Log carrier boat at Ban Thanoun village
Log carrier boat at Ban Thanoun village

This 6-man operated iron boat was waiting for its cargo - timber, probably Padauk wood - at Ban Thanoun. Elephants and workers were in the forest pulling the logs down to the river. During the low water months (March to May) it is difficult for these boats with deeper draft to navigate the river.

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