Up early and into a small truck for an hour long ride out into the countryside for our first kayak trip. Not only our first kayak trip in SE Asia but also one of our few river kayak trips. Here were are getting geared up.
There’s Sue in the foreground, our lead guide on the right, our paddling companions – three young men from Sweden and Finland – and second guide in the background. Being dry season the Nam Pa was fairly mild. But there were a few rapids so proper protective gear had to be worn.
Off we set and soon hit our first set of rapids. They weren’t that big but in sit-on top kayaks they bounced us around pretty good. Sue was steering our boat while I just power paddled. She was yelling “paddle, paddle” while I was trying to regain my balance in the bow. One of the boats with the lads from Sweden flipped fairly quickly. The guide had them out of the water and back onto their boat in no time and we were back in calmer waters. All ideas about a mellow river cruise were now gone. The first half of the trip had a few rapids. Our guide would usually stand up on his boat to check them out as we approached.
As did his assistant…
Sue and I flipped once when we hit a compression wave straight on. No amount of trying to counter balance was going to help us as the boat edged up. And over we went. My dry bag with my DSLR in it was drifting downstream but the guide had us back in in no time and we caught up to and retrieved the bag. The water was warm and we’d suffered no bruising. All was well. Our Swedish mates were not so lucky. They got flipped out a second time and one of them suffered some scrapes from hitting a rock.
We stopped for lunch, pulled the boats up and dumped accumulated water out of them. The guides arranged a great little lunch for us, spread on some big banana palm leaves on the beach. We ate, swam and relaxed in the sun. The rest of the trip we encountered no real rapids so we shed our helmets, paddled a bit and let the river carry us along past the gorgeous scenery and passing sights.
We passed a number of small villages and boats along the way. People were fishing, collecting river weeds and moving logs.
Were we happy to be on the water?
It was easy to be happy kayaking in such awe inspiring scenery.
But all good things must eventually come to an end. While we waited for the truck at the pickup point we followed the multi-coloured dragonflies around trying to get good close-ups. This was as good as it got as this dragonfly obligingly posed for me.
We rode back to Luang Prabang in the back of the truck, tired but happy.
Once back we returned to our room for a quick freshen-up and then headed up the nearby Phu Si, a 100m high hill, to watch the sun set. It’s a popular spot to get a good view of Luang Prabang and to watch the sun go down. Crowds of tourists sat or wandered waiting for that perfect moment.
After the sun set we walked back down and to the Mekong where we found a quiet restaurant with a view. The perfect end to a perfect day of river kayaking.