11.04.2007 - 17.04.2007
I spent the week from April 11 until the April 18 in a 6 meter long Lao canoe attempting to paddle 370 kilometers from Hue Xai to Luang Prabang. I have yet to complete my own rendition of the events of that week so here is Tims version. If you have no idea what he's talking about, thats ok...i was there and I only understand half of it...
There are some great pictures on Bree's webpage at:
if it dosent work let me know and ill sort it out...
"...i met an israeli guy called Noam, and we thought it would be a stonking idea to buy a boat and row it to Lurang Prabang, so we bought a wooden long boat for $110, stocked up on grub, munchies, a bit of food, some nosh and other bits and bobs for our supposed 5 day journey, we roped a random bloke called mike from the usa into the plan as well at the last minute, turns out he's the only one who knows anything about boating! i blagged some carpenters to make some paddles out of a red & white painted bamboo barrier i nicked and we slapped our rucksacks in these pikey zip up shopping bags, stocked up with water, too much water and set off in the afternoon. we landed at a beach 2 hours later, made a fire, ate some rice, had an ipod goa party with the village kids, fended off a madman and were invited into this guys house as it would rain, he was wicked and his house was full of people checking us out, he cracked open the Lao Lao, (Lao whiskey) and we all got stupidly drunk, then it rained all night! the next day he offered us a chicken for 100 baht, about 1 pound 40, i thought it would be quite good fun to have a maskot on board but alas no!
We set off well fed and rowed for 2 hours or so, named our boat the Spy Flyder, had a break, ate some lunch in a village, had a swim then set off, we passed some fast ish water, then calm, so we relaxed a bit, then took a wrong turn at the first rapid we encountered, massive 1 and a half foot waves flooded the boat, i hear "ABANDON SHIP" though no one has admitted who said it yet, anyway, the boat sank underneith us, i see our cooking pot float off, our new fags are wet, they dissapear down a whirlpool, sh*t, a whirlpool!! everyone grabs hold of a bag and drifts off down the mekong for 5 minutes, Mike saves the boat, i saved 2 paddles, my travel pillow my sandles and Bree! so we end up washed up on some damn pebble beach and count our losses, camera dies, as does my passport, but the ipod survives!! we think the 9 litres of water - each - may have had a part to play in our sinkage! 9 bloody litres i ask you! We played sharades with some villager to get Bree a cigarette, ringing out our soaked packs but the dude played dumb, he was smoking when we asked him so we resorted to saying Durka Durka but to no avail. We spend the next 3 hours drying out all our gear and crying. Then we have to boat it to the next possible overnight place, we find some random shack thing surrounded by water buffalo and manure and decide to kip there, the logs in the fire are still warm so we try really carefully not to disturb anything, but then a nice cuppa would hit the spot.. so we borrow their fire and pots, make some noodles, some tea, and noam being the resourcefull chap he is, some pitta bread from our flour! it rained again that night so we were glad to find that joint. we cleaned the place up and as we paddled off we make out the occupants walk to the shack and start scratching their heads!
we paddled hard the next day and that evening got to a sweet beach, we asked the village cheif if we could stay on the beach and he agreed, we made a fire and the whole village, everyone, about 50 people came out to watch us, it was surreal, we felt obliged to do something so Bree taught them the chicken dance, then the makerina, then Noam taught them the family guy theme, and i gave them all a stonking great beat box, so now there is a mekong village that can beat box and dance the macerina.. at the same time!! so we gave the cheif all our Lao Lao, oranges, fags and all the other odds n bobs, fishing for an invite but no! so we sleep under the stars next to our fire, which was lush, until the thunder storm comes and we have to huddle under a tablecloth with our rucksacks in our sleeping bags and get soaked. we renamed the boat 'what were we sinking!' So we awake to the sound of "Sabai Dee!!" the whole village had been watching us sleep! too wierd for us so we bail, row for 3 hours and land at the next village.
these guys are cool and the village is pretty big, LaoLao all round, got wasted, and it happened to be the thai and Laos new year so we had a huge waterfight! then we slept on the concrete floor of the long house for 3 hours, village watching.. we bought 8 eggs, some mangoes, and some drinks from the shop, which became 7 eggs, no mangoes and no drinks after a few 5 finger discounts, we slept on mattresses, sweet, i gave the kids a beat box which they lapped up, i knew that would come in handy one day!
So we left them pretty well sorted the next day, and paddled for 3 hours, stopped at a family village for water out of their stream, and set off again, round the corner there was a bloody great big rapid. we had to go through it, we got through the first wave but are taken down by a double wave, whirlpool swirly whirly thing combo, the boat sinks, we grab our bags, paddles and get swept down the river, we know the drill, after a few minutes a speed boat passed us and rescued us, it was pretty embarassing as it was full of passengers, but we all decided that our boat could stay sunk! we swapped our boat for a lift back. he told the villagers upstream about us and they let us stay in a shack, with a fire to dry our gear, and fed us pork jerky stuff sticky rice and water from an old 10 40 turbo deisel oil canister! i audited my gear again, this time knowing that i wouldn't be as lucky, the ipod, alas my dear ipod is dead, and my clock, and pretty much all my gear, journal, the laos lp was hit for the 3rd time and sort of survived ish. the speedboat came the next day and took us the half hour downstream to Pak beng, the half way point! we got the guesthouse lady to wash all our funky mekong fresh gear for about a quid and got the slow boat to lurang prabang, me and Noam noted all the places we would have sunk, about 8 times! we reckon it would have taken us about 2 weeks to boat it down the damn mekong!!
all in all it was an amazing adventure, i feel like i've been in Laos for a lifetime but its only been a week and a bit! it took us 7 days in total to get to lurang prabang, but it was efinately worth it. if anyone would like to donate a shed load of cash to my new ipod and camera fund for my birthday (29th April) then that would be very welcome!! "