Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.My travel companions in Laos Derrylyn & Laura had made reservations for us at an Eco-Lodge three hours up river from Luang Prabang on the Mekong.  As they described Kamu Lodge I began to get a bad feeling. When Derrylyn described the place as “cool”…a term I reserve for music and never use for jungle accommodations…I knew I was getting ready to move into the third ring of Hell.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Dining Room and the Lounge at Kamu Lodge

The term Eco-Lodge always seems to equate to high cost with minimal amenities and this proved no exception. After riding on a long tail boat for three hours we pull into the dock and hiked up the dusty trail to our new home set in the middle of a rice paddy.  Our rooms were safari tents set on platforms with grass roof’s built over them…need I bother to mention that there was no AC.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Our boat for the journey to Kamu Lodge

Each tent/cabin was nestled into the jungle far enough apart so that it didn’t seem like we were at Camp Piamingo but close enough so we could hear our neighbors snore. We were in the jungle, off the grid and electricity was at a premium. Solar panels and storage batteries made up the system that powered the 2W fluorescent bulbs and the fans mounted on the wall a foot over our heads.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Our cabins in the Jungle at Kamu Lodge

Forget reading… a Zippo lighter would have given me more light than the battery operated fluorescent bulb hanging from the middle of my tent.  It felt like 100 degrees in our little jungle paradise and I took one look at the cooling system (Ha, Ha) and I knew that there would be little or no sleep for me.  The fan that hung over my bed was about 5 inches across and when it was turned on made me think that a model airplane was getting ready to land on my forehead as I lie there.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Honing our rice harvesting skills at the Eco-Lodge

Eco-Lodges also have “neat” group activities. After our arrival when the sun was at its hottest we were to go out and harvest rice in the paddy. Armed with a sickle and a straw hat we were instructed in the fine art of crop harvesting.  I stood under a shade tree, having passed on weed whacking 101, daydreaming of a long tall G & T but it was not to be…no ice was to be had in our eco paradise.

OK, you get the picture….I’m a weenie! I don’t look for adventure or back to nature experiences! I am more up for strolls through a 17th century garden followed by a nice lunch at a sidewalk café and a bottle of chilled white wine. As I said…the third ring of Hell.

It was not all misery and boredom even though I may have given your that impression…oh really!

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Khmu Village next to the Lodge

Adjacent to the lodge was Ban Nyoy Har a basic village for 63 families of the Lao Khmu tribe which I enjoyed visiting. The people live a simple life off the grid based on subsistence farming plus some fishing and it was interesting to observe the family structure and lifestyle of these people.  Like most hill tribe villages in Lao there are a great many children….3 to 6 per family.  The women start producing children very young and as I looked at what I assumed to be old women with young babies in the group I was not really sure of their age. Perhaps the combination of hard work in the fields and childbirth had aged them far beyond their actual years. I lacked the language skills and nerve to ask about it.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Young mothers in Ban Nyoy Har Village

I have very mixed feelings about going to villages and taking photos of the people.  I mostly feel guilty because we travelers reduce the villagers to side show freaks. This is an old dilemma and while I wrestle with it I don’t expect to solve it.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Young child in the doorway of a hut in the Khmu Village

The trip up and down the Mekong was interesting as well. For such a huge watershed there is very little commercial traffic on the river.  Because of the shifting channels, waterfalls and rock outcroppings they cannot put barges on these rivers as we do in the US.  So it was a slow gentle trip up and down the river on a flat bottomed long tail boat with a stop at the Pak Ou Buddha Caves…two caves on the bank of the Mekong filled with hundreds upon hundreds of Buddha images.

Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

Pak Ou Buddha Caves

I would advise anyone who comes to Luang Prabang to take a trip up the river but do skip the Eco-friendly lodges…one only gets overheated

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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12 Responses to Traveling up the Mekong for a night of discomfort.

  1. Robin says:

    Shoot me now please…

  2. Ed Tohid says:

    OH BOY, did you enjoy the harvest? Cool I guess!!!!!!

  3. Claudia Hammer says:

    I laughed my head off with the image of the fan/model airplane swirling around about to land on your forehead and the vision of you weed whacking! That is never going to happen. Now standing in the shade of a tree with a cartoon bubble above your head with a G&T in it is more like it. Hope you have a nice visit with Derrylyn.

  4. dan coffey says:

    glad I missed it, though it makes for a good story. Someday I’ll check it out. Maybe the coldest day of he year.

  5. Maggie says:

    Dear Larry,

    I enjoyed narrative I have experience similar, in my mind’s eye I saw. The
    Discomfort and heat, humidity, and I am sure other lacks. You are
    Back to nature indeed and it’s natural beauty.

    Hugs Maggie

  6. jim voyles says:

    Great writing Larry. I felt like I was there. I have shower now!

  7. Tom Hall says:

    Glad we could experiience this adventure through you without having to
    Actually being there,

  8. I’d have loved it! You’re right; you’re a weenie. But I still like you :-)

  9. Saundra Dockins says:

    Still chuckling. Not my cup of tea either. Looks like snakes to me. I also don’t suffer well.

    I had to sit still for a sec and imagine the simple life they must live. We are so dependent on our technical world.

  10. leigh brown says:

    Larry,
    I love the pictures and feel for you as I know you do not like Hot!!

  11. Levi says:

    Dogma got in the way of karma

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