RIVER TAXI ON THE MEKONG
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Established on the banks of the Mekong, in Luang
Prabang, river travel is the norm. At any time of any day, large
boats, loaded with cargo, or smaller river taxi can be seen running on the
Our choice was to hire a boat and driver to take us twenty kilometers
up river, to the Pak Ou Caves, stopping at a couple of local villages on
Our driver, Batung, was both confident and steady as he
navigated our long wooden boat past the many rocky hazards and eddy
pools towards our destination. Due to the strong
current, our up stream trip took a little over one hour.
OUR BOAT AND "EL CAPITAN"
Safely arriving at the caves, a sense of “something
special” was perceptible. Pak Ou Caves for centuries had been a
gathering place for the Laos to come and gain merit by ritually bathing
the many broken images of Buddha, especially on their New Year’s. This
practice was halted in 1975 for approximately 15 years when the Communists
took control of Laos, and banned Buddhism.
PAK OU CAVES
entering the grotto like lower limestone cave, it was overwhelming to see
the 4000 or so Buddha figures placed there. It easily had enough light to
visually enjoy the displayed pieces.
The upper cave, was certainly not to be missed. Here, it’s
as if Indiana Jones had just discovered the place. Eerie, mysterious and
not well lit, flashlights were available for a small rental fee. This
larger cave had more Buddha images, dusty and covered with spider webs,
the antiquity was easily felt. The effect; awesome.
After spending a couple of hours here, we
felt we gave the caves their due respect.
Back on the river, now heading down stream,
we could see many villagers doing their daily routines along the banks. It
wasn’t long when Batung guided our craft ashore to what’s called “Whiskey
Village”. Here is where the famous Lao Lao whiskey is made. This rice
concoction, cooked in old oil drums with water directly pumped from the
Mekong, was then siphoned off into handmade clay pots. From there it moved
to the bottling line; no more than a small Lao girl filling glass bottles
by hand which already had giant scorpions or baby cobras inside! ( The
Mexican Tequila worm seemed a bit ridiculous compared to this.)
COOKIN' THE WHISKEY
We sampled the products, both red and white rice wine,
and the Lao whiskey, and lived to write about it. Each bottle was selling
for $1 USD, a fair price, but we declined the offer to buy.
Boarding our little river boat to return to Luang
Prabang and our Guest House, we had a steady trip back, with memories of
village life, Buddha images and the calm river all intermingling.
began to set over this mighty waterway and all who take their sustenance
from it. Daily routines continued in the age old, undisturbed style of
Cost was $5 each to hire the boat and
driver, for this half day adventure.
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their
time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly
follow the crowd.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha