365 days of bicycle travel with today. 2022 we started on April 30, my birthday, in Berlin. Klaus birthday present for me: a bicycle trip to Cambodia. Our first stage destination on our world cycling tour. And we will reach it tomorrow, April 30, 2023. Today we are still in Laos. A detour that would not have been necessary. From Vietnam, Saigon, we could have reached Cambodia in 2 days. Instead we headed north to get to Laos, or better: to the Mekong.
One of those words that triggered me early on. I don’t know why, but there was something I read about it, I guess. Like Sumatra or Cairo, the pyramid or the dinosaurs.
And there it is now. The lifeline, the “Great River”, the “Nine Dragons River” or “Mother of Waters”.
I expect brown water, enriched with sediments, I expect this typical river smell, a bit damp, muddy, I expect the cooling breeze and I expect some ferry stations to cross over to the other side.
The exact length of the river, where it originates, is not so important for the people who live on the river and with the river. For them, it is simply vital. As a source of food and energy.
It is used for washing clothes, irrigating the fields, catching fish, taking the daily bath or frolicking. During the rainy season the river rises considerably and deposits valuable sediments, which is the basis for the successful cultivation of food.
Again and again there are rapids, waterfalls and gorges that make the Mekong unnavigable. Thus unsuitable as a transport route. Some such attempts failed.
4000 Islands in the Mekong
We meet the Mekong only in the southern part of Laos. There the riverbed widens to a width of up to 14 km on a length of 50 km. In the middle of it numerous islands, which are partly inhabited and only over the numerous small “ferries”, or better wooden boats, possible to reach.
And exactly here we are now. If the first ferries are still very exciting, we soon get used to it and all our worries that this can’t work disappear. Finally it becomes the everyday means of transport. Also for us, our bikes and even with the luggage. It is simply fun to move from shore to shore and to explore the islands. The ferry’s, always some kind of wooden boat.
A unique landscape that, at least away from the tourist crowds, has preserved its diversity. Without words, it is enchanting, charming, beautiful, a little magical and paradisiacal. The perfect place. The 4000 islands in the Mekong. On Don Som we stay in a small village in the middle of everyday life. From here we visit the islands Don Det and Don Khon and the Mekong waterfall Li Phi Somphamit.
We have thus experienced only a very small section of the Mekong. It flows through a total of 6 countries. Its long way to the sea leads the Mekong from Tibet through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. For most, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is the most beautiful section. We have not been there. But I can definitely say that this one definitely can’t be less beautiful 🙂
Just in case you were wondering how we do keep this short hair on our trip… normally I do Klaus hair and he does mine with a machine. But well, here in Laos, we could not help but try this nice hairdresser we passed on our cycling tours. Chickens and motorcycles joining us in the saloon with this Torture chair 🙂
I didn’t get it all what I expected. There was crystal clear water, no typical river smell, but there was the cooling breeze and not really ferry stations to cross, but many people with wooden boats willing to bring us to the other sides of the river.