An American Abroad

Laos: On the Mekong River

I arrived in Luang Prabang pretty worn out from my trip to Cambodia and decided to take it easy for a few days — a vacation from my vacation. So I booked a long boat to take me north up the Mekong River to no place in particular. All I wanted was to watch the world drift by.

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This colorful boat is actually a floating gas station, supplying fuel to the smaller blue bloat in the foreground.

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We stopped at a cave notable for its 1,000 Buddha statues. Meh.

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The monks were more interesting than the Buddhas.

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We also docked at a village famous for its weaving and its moonshine.

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The people there offered me a few free glasses of their local hooch, of which they are justifiably proud.

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Then, once they had me slightly buzzed, they took me to some huts where women were busy at their looms making the most beautiful fabrics. The stratagem worked, and I bought cool silk and cotton pieces. Lao weaving looks almost unplaceable in terms of ethnicity and time, and yet is very distinctive.

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On the back to Luang Prabang, I saw four elephants on the far the Mekong — a bad time not to have my long lens mounted. Instead I had to content myself with looking at the distant mountains.

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