February 13-16, 2016: Kayaking Trek on the Mekong (Sort Of)

Said goodbye to Mitch and Cody in Luang Prabang and took off for the charming and quaint little town of Nong Khiaw in Northern Laos, from where we were to hop onto the Nam Ou River and kayak for 3 days and 110 km (~70 miles!) back down to Luang Prabang. Read on to hear more and see pics!

Miles walked:                 13
Miles transported:       ~100
Miles kayaked:              ~70

Nong Khiaw

We spent the evening in Nong Khiaw sorting out our kayaking trip for the next day and enjoying all that this beautiful little river town had to offer:

Nong Khiaw - 1

We found these awesome bungalows for the night, which were perfect, aside from the fact that at one point we stepped out of our bungalow and were greeted by the owner’s daughter squatting in front of our door, dress pulled up, and leaving a fantastic little welcome present for us on the doorstep. Oh, Laos.

Nong Khiaw - 2

Ventured out to explore the town:

Nong Khiaw - 3

Meeting awesome kids who were playing in the bushes, thankfully not taking shits:

Nong Khiaw - 4

Nong Khiaw - 5

Nong Khiaw - 6

Made our way back to the bungalows to get rested up for an exciting 3 days on the river, enjoying some more incredible views of said river along the way:

Nong Khiaw - 7

Nong Khiaw - 8

Nong Khiaw - 9

Nong Khiaw - 10

Kayaking Trek, Day 1

Making our way down to the kayaks, excited to get going!!

Kayak, Day 1 - 1

But not before this glamorous photo shoot:

Kayak, Day 1 - 2

Kayak, Day 1 - 3

Kayak, Day 1 - 4

Ready to go!!

Kayak, Day 1 - 5

Less than an hour into the trip, the four of us immediately regretted this decision. As the Chinese had built a bunch of dams on the river, there was virtually no current and it was equivalent to kayaking on the stillest lake you can imagine. With at least 5 hours left to go (THAT DAY, and then two more full days after that!), our arm muscles were already sore and we had no idea how we were going to make it. But we championed on through:

Kayak, Day 1 - 6

Kayak, Day 1 - 7

While enjoying some amazing views:

Kayak, Day 1 - 8

With Vong, our fearless leader:

Kayak, Day 1 - 9

We were joined by some adorable miniature fishermen:

Kayak, Day 1 - 10

Kayak, Day 1 - 11

Kayak, Day 1 - 12

Stopped for a quick lunch at a tiny little farm along the river:

Kayak, Day 1 - 13

Where the boys (all three of them!) posed for another photoshoot:

Kayak, Day 1 - 14

And on we continued!

Kayak, Day 1 - 15

Kayak, Day 1 - 16

Kayak, Day 1 - 17

Kayak, Day 1 - 18

FINALLY made it to Pak Jim Village, our home for the night:

Kayak, Day 1 - 19

Dropped our stuff off and went on a little stroll to see the village:

Kayak, Day 1 - 20

Kayak, Day 1 - 21

Where we met this beautiful old lady:

Kayak, Day 1 - 22

And this adorable baby:

Kayak, Day 1 - 23

And these hilarious kids:

Kayak, Day 1 - 24

And these ridiculously heart-stoppingly precious puppies (and yes, we took about 8 million photos of them, and yes, narrowing that down to only SEVEN for this blog post was practically impossible):

Kayak, Day 1 - 25

Kayak, Day 1 - 26

Kayak, Day 1 - 27

Kayak, Day 1 - 28

Kayak, Day 1 - 29

Kayak, Day 1 - 30

Kayak, Day 1 - 31

Regretfully, the boys finally managed to break us away and we continued our stroll:

Kayak, Day 1 - 32

The village grocery store…

Kayak, Day 1 - 33

The local high school up ahead and dormitories on the left. As there are very few high schools in the region, kids build their own little dorms and travel, by foot, 2 hours every weekend to go visit their families!

Kayak, Day 1 - 34

But hey, as long as everyone’s got cable, ammiright??

Kayak, Day 1 - 35

Yoav partook in a pre-dinner game of Chinlone with the locals:

Kayak, Day 1 - 36

Made our way back to our homestay, which was at the house of the village chief and his wife!

Kayak, Day 1 - 37

Had a quick outdoor shower in the kitchen (when in Laos, do as the Lao do):

Kayak, Day 1 - 38

Kayak, Day 1 - 39

And settled down for a delicious dinner of duck stew and blood. No joke, they full on slaughtered the duck, plucked it, cut it up, threw it into a cauldron, added some veggies, and topped it up with a nice, fresh bowl of duck blood. Anyway, everything was washed down pretty nicely with the homemade Lao-Lao whiskey that the chief was forcing down our throats the entire dinner (and when I say nicely, I actually mean horribly, as the Lao-Lao tasted more like gasoline than whiskey). It was an amazing experience!

Kayak, Day 1 - 40

Bellies full and heads slightly cloudy with Lao-Lao, we settled in to our respective rooms for the night, but not before it was our turn for a photoshoot:

Kayak, Day 1 - 41

Kayak, Day 1 - 42

Kayaking Trek, Day 2

Woke up bright and early, ready (not really, actually) for another full day of kayaking. Ugh. But first things first – breakfast! Yay!

Kayak, Day 2 - 1

Walked by the school on our way down to the kayaks, seeing the high school morning assembly in full force:

Kayak, Day 2 - 2

And paid a quick visit to the primary school to check out what the kids were up to (Vong just wanted to flirt with the teacher…):

Kayak, Day 2 - 3

As I mentioned before, the Chinese had built a bunch of dams along the river. Unfortunately (but also fortunately) that meant we had to bypass one of the dams by car, as we couldn’t exactly kayak down the dam. I mean, we could have TRIED, but I suspect it wouldn’t have worked out particularly well for either of us. We loaded the kayaks onto the car (and by we, I mean Vong and his friend) as Lauren and I sat in the car doing absolutely nothing:

Kayak, Day 2 - 4

And Francy skipped rocks:

Kayak, Day 2 - 5

All while these adorable little boys were hanging out nearby, jumping up and down and clapping their hands:

Kayak, Day 2 - 6

We were joined that day by a fellow kayaking companion – a British lad by the name of Hamish, whom Francy kept mistakenly calling Haymitch! Sorry Hamish, you can go ahead and blame the Hunger Games for that. And so begins Day 2!

Kayak, Day 2 - 7

Kayak, Day 2 - 8

Kayak, Day 2 - 9

Kayak, Day 2 - 10

Our only successful selfie (please note that I still have my hat and sunglasses in this picture…):

Kayak, Day 2 - 11

Stopped for lunch at the local village of Kho Khun (I think):

Kayak, Day 2 - 12

Kayak, Day 2 - 13

Where Samsonite made the best of friends with our hosts and thus commenced another photoshoot:

Kayak, Day 2 - 14

Kayak, Day 2 - 15

Kayak, Day 2 - 16

Kayak, Day 2 - 17

Kayak, Day 2 - 18

Made our down to the kayaks that were patiently sitting and waiting for us:

Kayak, Day 2 - 19

And then Francy posed for his own photoshoot. Who knew the art of kayaking would provide for so many photoshoots?

Kayak, Day 2 - 20

While this adorable girl had her bath:

Kayak, Day 2 - 21

Shortly after we took off, we hit some pretty intense rapids. We had very little warning (Vong told us there would be rapids, but didn’t specify when and didn’t instruct us to put our helmets and life-jackets on) and both Lauren & Yoav and Francy & I flipped in our kayaks. There is very little that scares the two of us, but I gotta be honest – it was pretty freaky. We flipped on a bunch of rocks, our stuff went flying down the river, and turbulent eddies (river whirlpools) were dragging us down! We are beyond lucky that neither of us hit our heads on a rock or broke any limbs. Now onto the less serious stuff – we lost a bunch of crap!! My hat and sunglasses, my toe ring (I know, woe is me), Lauren lost her shorts (which made arriving at the next village pretty awkward for her), and we ALMOST lost the GoPro!! Francy had it tied on his ankle when the kayak flipped, and the current/rapids were so strong that it pulled the GoPro off!! We searched around for 20 minutes without any luck, until Francy saw a little orange circle bobbing along the river (our GoPro’s floating handle) and semi-risked his life to go get it!!! Moral of the story – don’t flip in a kayak. And if you think you might, make sure you’re wearing your helmet and life-jacket and that everything you care about is secured! Suffice it to say we were beyond relieved when we arrived at Pak Jeng, our homestay village:

Kayak, Day 2 - 22

I’ll give you a quick tour:

Kayak, Day 2 - 23

Kayak, Day 2 - 24

Kayak, Day 2 - 25

The bedroom (this pic is from the next morning, as you can clearly tell all the beds have already been slept in):

Kayak, Day 2 - 26

The kitchen, where our dinner was being prepared:

Kayak, Day 2 - 27

Rewarded ourselves with some pretty delicious food and Beerlao (most creative name for a national beer ever) after an almost-traumatizing day:

Kayak, Day 2 - 28

Kayaking Trek, Day 3

Our final (yessssssss) day! Spirits were high, even though my hat and sunglasses had been sacrificed to the Mekong:

Kayak, Day 3 - 1

Kayak, Day 3 - 2

Kayak, Day 3 - 3

Kayak, Day 3 - 4

Kayak, Day 3 - 5

Stopped for a quick break:

Kayak, Day 3 - 6

Where Yoav apparently spotted something cool:

Kayak, Day 3 - 7

Kayak, Day 3 - 8

And on we went!

Kayak, Day 3 - 9

Kayak, Day 3 - 10

Kayak, Day 3 - 11

Kayak, Day 3 - 12

Kayak, Day 3 - 13

Almost there!!!

Kayak, Day 3 - 14

Looks like someone else had also made a sacrifice to the Mekong river:

Kayak, Day 3 - 15

Kayak, Day 3 - 16

Stopped at an awesome cliff-side bar about 20 minutes before the finish-line to prematurely celebrate our accomplishments. What an amazing adventure!!

Kayak, Day 3 - 17

We’ll finish this post off with a short little video chronicling these three days of fun and adventure:

2 thoughts on “February 13-16, 2016: Kayaking Trek on the Mekong (Sort Of)

    • Hi there!!

      If you can, you should! It was an unbelievable experience.

      We did eat duck blood – it was actually quite delicious!




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