One of the things that you should not miss when visiting Luang Prabang is taking a cruise on the powerful and scenic Mekong River. Unlike the calm and clear Hương River running through my home town, the Mekong River rushing through Luang Prabang with its mightiness and charisma.
From the old town of Luang Prabang, you can take a boat up-stream of Mekong River to find yourself passing the beautiful landscape and ongoing life on the two sides of the river. From time to time, you will see some people fishing on their small boats, or a herd of buffaloes grazing on the grassy river bank or some men standing in waist-deep water to do gold panning. While the life on the two banks of the river is so tranquil, the life on the Mekong River isn’t. I was thrilled when the very long and thin wooden boats I rode in snaking between the partially submerged rocks while surfing the swift-running current.
I shared the boat ride with an elderly British couple who seemed to enjoy the journey as much as I did. They looked sweet to each other as if they were a couple on honeymoon. While Sue impressed me with her warm smile, her husband Kevin’s appearance reminded me of Ernest Hemingway, the world renowned American novelist.
On the way to Kamu Village, we stopped by Pak Ou Caves where hundreds of Buddha statues filled the lower cave. Just a few staircases away from there, there was an upper cave which looked dark and mysterious. I didn’t stay inside long as it was sunny outside and I enjoyed sitting on one of the stairs to watch the long wooden boats racing toward Pak Ou Caves. We only had a brief stop at Pak Ou Caves as our destination is Kamu Lodge, an eco-lodge on a bank of Mekong River, which is about 1 hour away from the caves by boat.
Kamu Lodge nestles by Mekong River and spreading from the riverbank to the valley where its open restaurant and bar are surrounded with paddy fields. The best thing about the lodge is not only about the serene atmosphere, friendly staff and delicious local food but it’s also about that fact that your neighbors are lovely and nice Kamu people in the close-by Yoihai Village (aka Kamu Village). Just a minute walk from the lodge, you already find yourself at the heart of the small Kamu commune where you would meet the villagers working outside their house on a summer day. The kids there were very shy but I could see that they loved being taken photos. After some smiles exchanged between us, they bravely posed for me. The visit around the village was short but it seemed like I had seen every corner of it.
Images of touristic Luang Prabang have been fading in me but Yoihai Village remains warm in my heart. I still remember the pungency of the homemade rice wine I tasted at a Kamu home, the sweetness of the Kamu kids’ smile and the excitement of the boat trip on Mekong River whenever I think about my trip to Laos in 2012.