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Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Jurgen, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Excerpt: After a first Gt-Rider “bikes on boat” cruise (“Houai Xai to Luang Prabang”, see trip report: http://www.gt-rider.com/se-asia-motorcycling/topic/a-popular-mekong-cruise-houai-xai-to-luang-prabang), David Unkovich organized a follow up journey further down the Big River. I sailed this stretch twice, in a time span of three month (in February and May), so that the story’s illustrations are intermingled, showing variations in the meteorological conditions.

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    Pak Lai arrival; David, the trip organizer with the youngest crew member (captain’s son) – a stopover during an awesome cruise on a spectacular river.

    The complete ‘fluvial’ trip report is divided into three parts; on some river stretches, however, we sailed twice, in order to join the former arrival point. The three chapters, divided into regions, are the followings:
    1. A popular Mekong cruise: Houei Xai to Luang Prabang (23.02.2013 and 22.02.2014)
    http://www.gt-rider.com/se-asia-motorcycling/topic/a-popular-mekong-cruise-houai-xai-to-luang-prabang
    2. Through the Xayaboury dam: Luang Prabang to Pak Lai (25.02.2014 and 23.05.2014) (this text)
    3. The empty Mekong: Pak Lai to Vientiane (24.05.2014) (to be published next)
    Luang Prabang, stop over and departure.

    “I cannot determine the meaning
    Of sorrow that fills my breast:
    A fable of old, through it streaming,
    Allows my mind no rest.
    The air is cool in the gloaming
    And gently flows the Rhine.
    The crest of the mountain is gleaming
    In fading rays of sunshine.”
    The Lorelei, poem by Henrich Heine [1]

    Heine, the great German poet and traveler, passed away a couple of years before Europeans started to explore the Mekong; otherwise, he might have been enchanted to hear about the pristine Middle Mekong scenery, particularly the Luang Prabang to Pak Lai stretch, adorned with countless “Lorelei” rocks and boulders. This sector is also filled with history, some mystery and, in recent times, controversy.

    After sailing from Houay Xay to Luang Prabang, the GT-Rider crew enjoyed a relaxing two days stopover in the Royal City. Every day, early birds are rewarded with the colorful sight of the monks’ alms round (“tak bat”); controversial when it is pushed to commercial absurdity, but serene and genuine at remote spots, were locals sincerely perpetuate a timeless tradition.

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    Luang Prabang mong’s morning alms round (tak bat)
    Ban Phanom (Phanom village), a neighboring Tai Lue dwelling, along the Nam Khan’s river shore, provides an interesting excursion on Luang Prabang’s outskirts. It is the place where Henri Mouhot, a French naturalist and explorer, the first European to visit this region, passed away. His shrine located in a pristine jungle environment makes an enticing visit before a river cruise. On his journey from Bangkok, the adventurer followed the “Big River”, from Pak Lai to Luang Prabang, putting the Mekong on a map (see a comprehensive trip report on GT-Rider: http://www.gt-rider.com/se-asia-motorcycling/topic/revisiting-henri-mouhots-shrine-near-luang-prabang)
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-x5_c5Ilbc_o/VtqMzc6ZvbI/AAAAAAAAevo/XtSqbu549Is/s800-Ic42/_JC18337.jpg
    Two GT-Rider friends visiting Henri Mouhot’s shrine

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