We decided to take a river cruise in the afternoon of Christmas Day, different that our usually slump in front of Muppet Christmas Carol full of turkey and Christmas Pud! So we headed off down to the pier and ended up charting our own boat!
We hadn't had lunch so I thought we would just grab a quick sandwich, I forgot that nothing is done quickly here, so we ended up with chicken burger and chips - freshly made, not from a fast food joint…
And of course a beer!
The Mekong wasn't as high as it is in the summer since it was the dry season, it is still a mighty river and I am not a fan of water, the boat had holes in it and I wish we had life jackets. We didn't need them which was a good thing!
Ebi-kun had fun waving at the local kids, you can see how high the river gets in this picture, there was quite a lot of farming going on along the river banks, I assume they get swallowed up during the rainy season.
Our first stop was at a small village…
The main street on a whole was quite poor but there were a couple of homes that obviously had money. These were fishing nets out to dry.
The village is famous for it's silk scarves and LaoLao whiskey. I think most people visit in the morning so many of the stalls had shut up shop, this lady was happy to demonstrate the weaving. The scarves at the front are raw silk and nicely made, but obviously handmade. She takes 3 days to make the plain ones and the more colourful ones take a week. The ones on the table behind were cotton and obviously made by machine. I did buy a couple of scarves, I only wanted one but ended up with three - bloody good sales woman!
Surprisingly, in the poor and dusty tiny village was a fabulous way, spotlessly clean and stunning…
Then it was back on our private boat and back up the river to the Pak Ou caves, it takes about 2 hours going up (against the flow of the river) and about an hour coming back. There were a few other boats, one was a big tour which meant it was quite crowded inside, and we had to climb over a boat or two to actually get to dry land. Health and Safety has not yet reached these parts!
The caves are home to hundreds of Buddha's, to be honest, the caves by themselves are not that exciting but worth going on the boat trip, it was lovely to just kick back and watch the scenery go by. This is from the lower cave which actually flooded in the 1960's which is quite hard to believe because it was quite high off the river.
Then if you climb another 300 odd steps there is another cave which is really dark inside, we had torches which was handy, if you don't you can borrow from the ticket lady at the entrance of the cave.
Once the caves had been explored we hopped back on the boat and headed back to town. We decide for Christmas dinner we would go to the restaurant over the other side of the river, it has great reviews and meant going over the bamboo bridge - which was a little hairy in the daylight and very hairy after beer and in the dark!
The restaurant, Dyen Sabai was lovely. There were a collection of tables set out with cushion seating, some in little nooks and other over looked the river. Be decided to try the Laos fondue so we had to sit at a specific table.
Our starter… from the left, eggplant dip, crunchy chicken, spicy (make you cry type of spicy) water buffalo dip, local sausage and riverweed. In the pot is sticky rice. It was all delicious except the spicy dip, which was just too much for me!
We had absolutely no idea what Lao fondu was, it turned out to be a combination of yaki-niku (BBQ meat) and shabu-shabu. It is cooked at the table in this special dish. There is stock in the moat and then you beat in a couple of eggs. Then chuck in all the veg, plenty of it there was. Then you use fat to grease the top of the pan and cook the meat on that!
I'm not sure why the boys look so serious on the picture, it was a really good night and we were full to busting!
Which was a bit of a shame because we got back to the hotel to find that they were having a party and all the guests we asked to join. I managed a few sips of wine then we used Ebi-kun as an excuse to go to bed early!
So that was Christmas day, tomorrow we head off on the next part of the adventure…
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