The day before we were going on the river trip down the Nam Ou and Mekong rivers, we all went to the port in Nong Khiaw to negotiate chartering a boat to Luang Prabang. After speaking to several boat owners/drivers, we agreed with one of them that we would come back at 9.30am the next day and pay 1 million Kip for him to take all of us. We weren’t 100% sure if the deal was done, because he was laughing a lot, but he said that 9.30am and 1 million was fine and we’d see him tomorrow morning. So as agreed, the 6 of us (the original 5 plus another girl we met in town) turned up before 9.30 to get his boat, and soon found out that he didn’t have a boat, couldn’t take us for 1 million, and thought the whole thing was hilarious. We thought it was pretty funny too, it seemed like a typical Lao way to start our day, and unphased we went to talk to some other boat drivers. We managed to find someone who would take us for 1.2 million, and we also found 2 other Polish girls that wanted to come with us, so once we’d seen his boat, the 8 of us agreed to go with him.
It turned out to be the most perfect day we could have hoped for – the weather started off a bit overcast with the sun just peeking through, and then the clouds cleared and we had beautiful blue sky for most of the way.
We spent the first 4 or 5 hours going down the Nam Ou river, seeing limestone carsts, local fishermen working, small villages and people going about river life. Then we joined onto the mighty Mekong river and saw the Pak Ou caves, and eventually arrived at Luang Prabang. We were both quite surprised at how beautiful the Mekong is – visions of muddy brown water was not exactly incorrect, but it is definitely a lot more picturesque in real life than in photos. It was a fantastic day and as expected was well worth it to charter the boat rather than getting the bus.