River Cruise: Day 1!

Hello from the Mekong River!

Our first day of cruising to Thailand has commenced with an early morning rise to the port where we embarked on our two-day adventure. Breakfast was served shortly after the boat pulled away from the shores of Luang Prabang. Coffee and tea were served as we munched down on croissants and mini bananas. Many of the students then curled up in their booths with one another and continued their night’s sleep as we curved around and away from the city.

After two hours into the river cruise, we docked to explore the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas. This is the cave where the king and queen of Laos would come to honour the Theravada Buddha during a washing ceremony for the Lunar New Year. The cave holds over 1,000 Buddha statues with a central altar at the top of the cave followed by the entrance to a second upper nearby cave. Some of the wooden Buddha statues date back centuries ago and still remain in their place to this day!

Our tired travellers returned to the ship and continued to nap before lunch was served around 11:30 AM. Today’s menu included a giant vat of white rice with fried fish, beef stew, and a chicken stir-fry. Waking up from their naps, students then feasted as our journey up the Mekong was greeted by waves of sunshine that beat down on the boat into the afternoon. Students took the time to work on projects and meet with their teachers to go over assignments and lessons.

As soon as the dishes were cleared our boat docked a second time where we ventured into Ban Baw, one of Laos’ remote villages around 1:00 PM. Groups of small children were playing down in the water and brought us up to the village of over 300 people. Some of the oldest tribes continue to live here with the majority of people being the Lao Loum. Our guides toured us through the village where we learned about daily life and their traditional rice fermenting processes.

The sun was just beginning to set when we arrived at our destination for the night in Pakbeng. Our hotel is situated right off the Mekong River in the jungles of Laos with quaint cabins surrounded by lush vegetation all around. We were welcomed to the hotel and then sent to get ready for dinner before a Laotian dance performed by local children. At the end of the dance, out students were invited to participate in the friendship ceremony before making their way over to the buffet.

As the crickets chant us to sleep after our day on the river, we anticipate another busy day of cruising up the Mekong before crossing over into Thailand.

Yours in the jungles of South East Asia,