Notes on the Geography of Laos: Mekong Below Houayxay
We're setting out on a day-long speedboat run down the river from Houayxay to Luang Prabang.
Early morning fog on the river.
It thickens and visibility gradually falls to near-zero.
As the day warms, the fog burns off.
The vista opens.
The river is generally open, but the banks are rocky, and occasionally there are islands and near-islands. In the course of a day, perhaps half a dozen riverboats pass by, along with a couple of dozen speedboats, their unmuffled automobile engines roaring.
With the sky clear at last, the water's silt load is illuminated.
A mandatory stop for checking papers. This is January, and the police post moves uphill during summer's high water.
There's a village here: Muang Paktha.
Back on the river: rippling sedimentary layers.
A stop at a bigger place, catering to the river traffic.
View from the river. The building is a restaurant; the village of Pakbeng lies just beyond.
Off again and passing a beach where logs are waiting to be taken downstream.
More patches of rocky banks.
More logs and speedboats.
How did the logs get to the river? Here's your answer.
Judging from the elephant's lean into the harness, the resistance must be very considerable.
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