After a night in Hanoi – Still in the throws of Chinese New Year mayhem – we flew from Hanoi to Vientiane. What a contrast !!! Ten degrees warmer and a totally different vibe altogether. Nine of us from the N Vietnam cruise joined up with about 10 new recruits for the next leg of this adventure.
An afternoon with a whistle stop tour of some of the temples and landmarks of Vientiane which used to be the French capital of Laos when the French ran Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
The Mekong is one of the worlds greatest rivers flowing from Tibet, through China into Laos and on through Cambodia and Vietnam to the South China Sea. Thanks to numerous dams that the Chinese and now the Laotians have built to generate electricity to sell to Thailand and others, the water level has been reduced to a very large trickle during the “dry” season. As a result the Pandaw boat cannot get down to Vientiane so we were up at dawn for a 3 hour bus ride to get us to a very long longboat which will take us up river for six hours to join the Laos Pandaw – our home for the next 10 days.
A delicious Laotian/Thai lunch cooked and prepared onboard by our Pandaw crew. A minor problem with the gearbox – soon overcome and we were off…..
Definitely the highlight of the trip so far we are cruising up the river with Thailand on the left back and Laos on the right. Apparently there are plans to build a further 3 hydroelectric dams along this stretch of the river alone. This will make it more navigable but destroy the character of this mighty river as well as destroying the bountiful fish and fertile silt that the local inhabitants depend upon ! It does not bode well !
Arrived at the Laos Pandaw just as the sun was setting. A somewhat chaotic arrival and introductory briefing then dinner and an early night after a couple hectic days getting here.