It takes two days to travel upriver on the Mekong from Laung Prabang to Huayxai, a small town on the border with Thailand. The boat is beautiful. Built entirely out of wood it follows the style of a long boat. Just wide enough for two seats on each side with a narrow corridor between them. The seats look like an eclectic mix of old car and bus seats bolted to wooden planks for support. The driver sits at the front and at the back there is the engine and a small living area.
It is popular with tourists and locals alike and seems to be a key form of transport for the Riverside villagers. A huge TV was artfully hauled from the boat onto a sandy beach at one stop, and at another the roof was unloaded with what looked like the village’s entire years supply of beer Lao.
In fact there seems to be no limit to what can be transported as long as you can get it on board. Two travellers managed to haul their motorbikes onto the front deck. Although I did not envy them the steps from the jetty to the town at the halfway point of Pakbeng.
The landscape is varied and spectacular with densely vegetated mountains, sandy beaches and rocky outcrops along the banks. There is definitely something special about viewing it all from water, even if it is just by sticking your head out of a motorboat.