Friday, June 10, 2011

Mekong by Speedboat


Earlier this year I went on a speedboat trip down the Mekong river - from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang in Laos.
It was just a small part of my three month trip from Bangkok to Hanoi.


Mekong connecting Huay Xai and Luang Prabang (in blue color)

A few words about Laos

Known as the SE Asia’s most languid country, Laos is a perfect place to practise being horizontal. The country is officially known as Lao PDR - Lao People’s Democratic Republic (which is more than often jokingly referred to as Lao Please Don’t Rush) and is one of the rare countries in the world where you get to see communist flags hanging from the classic French provincial style buildings.
Fortressed by a chain of high mountains, traveling through Laos is all but easy in this slow-paced country. Since tourism is relatively new to the region, much of the country still remains unexplored by travelers, thus wrapping it in a much-yearned mist.
Despite a healthy economic growth, the country is apparently still struggling to escape its status as one of the poorest nations on Earth. Infrastructure is disastrous. Railways are non-existent. Highways are but a dream in Laos for now (at least until China decides to improve its trade routes to Thailand). The country’s most important roads are narrow and damaged, ensuring a bumpy ride. More than just a few roads are closed down during the monsoon season (flooded). River transport is very much alive on Mekong, but it’s costly.

Boat trip from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang

Huay Xai is a small border town. By the looks of it, it must have once - in somewhat recent history - been an important fishing town (or maybe still is) and important link in opium trafficking.  Nowadays, the traces of the past are well hidden by the rapidly developing industry that is tourism.
There isn't much to do there. It's a ghost town once the sun goes down. Most travelers stop just for one day - unwillingly. Boats and buses leave in the early morning so whoever arrives there later is stuck there for a day. The same happened to me.

There's a reason I crossed the border (from Thailand) at this particular place - I wanted to take the speedboat down the Mekong river to Luang Prabang. It's roughly 300km down the river. I knew it was somewhat dangerous. A few people die on that river every year, crashing into rocks. Before I went there I spent quite a lot of time asking everything there is to know about that stretch of the river.

This is the quote that convinced me to take the speedboat:

the speed “boat” to Luang Prabang, about one of the most exciting things i have ever done, Lonely Planet tells you to not do it and take the slowboat instead as supposedly, people die every year crashing into rocks. Fuck that, SO AWESOME, DO IT! It took me 6 hours to get to Luang Prabang whereas the slowboat takes 2 whole days plus you look like a bitch.

by anonymous /trv/ler

I would do the trip injustice if I only said it was great. It was by far the most adrenaline-induced experience I've had in years. 300km down the river in 6 hours. Zigzaging around the sharp rocks in the middle of the river was outstanding. Even though it was a bit uncomfortable because of the helmet, life-jacket , hardly any room for legs + benches that barely passed as seats, it was well worth it.


(audio cuts out mid-video for about 30sec. I accidentally pushed the mute button)



Local girls on the riverside



Our speedboat



Rocks on Mekong




69 insights:

J.B. said...

Great video and report! Didn't know what a speedboat was until now, but it looks really fast and the area looks beautiful. Wish I could go on a trip like that.

RastaPasta said...

That's fascinating, I've never been to east Asia but really find the different culture amazing.

jamiesaur said...

Fascinating. I'd be scared of the rocks or falling off.

Moobeat said...

this is intense

Duhniel S. said...

it looks Hardcore

-BB said...

I know where I'm coming for my kid's geography report. Nice work.

mike said...

that's so cool. i would like to do that someday.

jeramieetyler said...

Dude sounds like youre living a dream! :D

Daniel said...

very cool, nice post!

Dave said...

My Uncle told me that when he was last on the Mekong Delta it was a really busy place lol.

Zack said...

Looks like you had a great time.

Doc_Waffles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc_Waffles said...

This was very cool, thanks for the pics.

ed said...

interesting history. looks like you had a great experience

Pool Fool said...

you got a very nice video out there

randomfacts said...

Sounds like fun!

Catherine said...

That looks absolutely incredible.

I need to get to Asia.

BigMike said...

" the slowboat takes 2 whole days plus you look like a bitch." HAHAHAHA that's all it would take for me also.

The Dawg said...

That looks pretty neat.

BigOryx said...

wow thats just amazing, I would love to do that :-O

thanks for the infos

Bob said...

This was nice!

icey said...

you have a very interesting blog going on...and i actually mean it.
great post,too.
cheers,
-icey

Dola said...

dammit now i want a speed boat! xD

DIYgamer said...

I would love to do this!

Mars said...

Dang. I wish I had the opportunity to do something like this.

Skaerf said...

FUCK, i want to travel before I commit suicide. I'd stock up on so many counterfeit goods in Mekong hehe :P

Triper said...

Wow nice road!

JayPower said...

Sounds like an amazing experience man ;D

InfoTube said...

Looks amazing!

Asty said...

sounds like a good time

Tomas.G said...

Good post, Keep it up.

yourminigames.com said...

Cool Blog!

Jack of Diamonds said...

Argh i'm jealous :D

AACoaster said...

Damn, I want to try that too :D

oinyo said...

Wow amazing vid and pix... Thank you for sharing!
ANy other cool stories from there you would like to share? :)

Rob said...

wow seems like an incredible expeirence, really want to do something similar

Trolske said...

Amazing footage. I wish I could do a trip like this.

disraelyan said...

Thailand for the most part does not have the best looking areas but this post proved otherwise. Good read.

TIMMYTHEROBOT said...

that seems like an amazing trip

Mars said...

Awesome trip. Extremely jealous!

wellpickedbooger said...

Awesome video! I love the boat's paint jobs, such a bright contrast to the river itself.

KuntaJay said...

Thats so cool. You're lucky to be able to see the world.

Michael Arsenault said...

damn that looks like alot of fun, I am jelly!

Ben said...

Wow that sounds awesome. I reallllly want to go travelling...

Spader said...

looks like so much fun!

sestrenger said...

Laos its a weird place. The local food freaks me out!

Air Fresher said...

lol

Geoffrey said...

looks like a once in a lifetime experience. Hopefully I'll do it too one day!

Candle said...

Nice! Hope I can do that someday!

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

wow, i'm totally jealous. following for vicarious living.

Jacob said...

must have been an amazing experience!

pepsi_lover47 said...

Wow awesome pics. Truly what an amazing story.

Mikael B said...

Sounds good! :)

RageCompeX said...

bangkok...ah you just remembered me of hangover 2 :)

Bowz said...

Great post. I hope I get the chance to travel someday, and soon.

Johnathan said...

That looks really beautiful.

Neon said...

Beautiful pictures, hope you had fun there. :)

fulano tal said...

Awesome picture! Please!
Keep on delivering more :)

Pockets said...

This looks fun. I want to do this.

Adam said...

Wow, those pictures are beautiful

FateIT said...

Very pretty, I am so jealous of your trip :)

mike said...

pretty cool. looked like a fun trip

Mr. Cactus said...

Your trip sounds amazing

Stuck In Syndey said...

yeah it did look like fun

Geoffrey said...

it's amazing to get off the beaten trail from time to time and experience life as it's mean to be lived

Triper said...

Awesome pictures, it must be good trip.

Burn Paradox said...

looks like an awesome trip, I enjoyed the video, even thought the sound cut out, oh wells still awesome

RageCompeX said...

I wish I had a speedboat

psychpost said...

looks amazing

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