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Mekong river boat to Luang Prabang; Udomxai, Luang Namtha, Muang Sing, Xieng Kok, Houixai during Mekong flood (06 - 14 August 2008)

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This August trip is a loop circuit with the first portion being the usual slow boating on the Mekong river from northern Thailand (Chiang Khong) and northern Laos (Houixai) down to Luang Prabang with stops at Pakbeng and Kamu Lodge (Ban Ngoy Hai). The second part started with land road travel from Luang Prabang up north to Udomxai, Luang Namtha, Muang Sing, Muang Long and to Xieng Kok on the Mekong river bank opposit Myanmar's Shan state. That was followed by speed boat ride from Xieng Kok down the Mekong river again to Ban Tong Phueng (a Lao town on the river opposit Thailand's Chiang Saen), and finally taking the car road back to Houixai. Along the way you will see the photos showing the effects of unusually high rainfall, land slides and Mekong river flooding.

Air Asia plane at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport
Air Asia plane at a port of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport".

Green paddy fields against the hills on the way to Chiang Khong
Green paddy rice fields against hills on the way from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong.

August is one of the wettest months in South Asia. It was cloudy and we were going under light shower. Atmosphere was filled with water particles, and cool air current made us feel fresh for the trip we had planned for months.

View of the Mekong river from Nam Khong riverside hotel, Chiang Khong
View of the Mekong river from Nam Khong riverside hotel, Chiang Khong

At that time we did not notice that the Mekong was already rising above its usual water level. Only the next day when we went to Thai immigration we realized that water was indeed high, but still there was no alarm. After the immigration process we took a long tail boat ferry to cross the river to Lao side - Houixai.

A cargo boat on the Mekong river
A cargo boat on the Mekong river downstream of Houixai

Most of Chinese cargo boats come down to Chieng Saen in Thailand (upstream from Houixai) and Houixai in Laos. Only few would go further down the river. The stretch of Mekong between Houixai and Vientiane is plied mainly by Lao boats. The wooden super structure at the aft, above the engine room, of the boat houses common crew cabin, a toilet, kitchen, and the wheel room.

A Lao village wat temple in the wood
A Lao village wat (temple)

A typical Lao wat (temple) on the Lao bank (left bank) of the river. Surrounded by wet green wood amids the misty air the temple looked like a place in a dream. The location is roughly 5 minutes before the point at which Thailand and Laos meet on the right bank.

A primary school class room, between Ban Hon Sai Neua and Ban Hon Sai Tai
A primary school classroom between Ban Hon Sai Neua and Ban Hon Sai Tai (north and south villages of Hon Sai)

At about 2:30 p.m. we arrived at Ban Hon Sai Tai (Kamu people village) on the left bank of the river. This small primary school is located between the southern and northern villages. We arrived there on the day the school was closed.

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