Two days of paradise by the Lik River
Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

When the rainy season ends, river levels drop and once again there’s space for people to enjoy a picnic by the water’s edge, have a drink and maybe cook up the catch of the day.
Rivers in Laos are abundant and essential water sources, so people tend to live close to rivers even if they are far from a town and have no shopping mall or supermarket. But such amenities are unnecessary because people don’t need them as nature provides for all their needs.
Rivers are often also at the heart of the most popular tourist sites in Laos because people love to be by the river to gaze at the view and breathe in the fresh air.
Last weekend I enjoyed a very special time with my family when we visited Hattha village in Keo-oudom district, Vientiane province.
We watched the villagers going to their farms by small speedboats in the early morning. Their rice farms were on the other side of the Nam Lik river and they would return home late in the afternoon, while some would stay overnight if their farm was some distance away.
These scenes reminded me vividly of my childhood, as I was born and lived here until the age of 10.
I don’t remember whether I was sad or happy as a young boy because I spent every day working on the farm. Today my feelings are of great affection for that time and I really miss my childhood life.

Visitors enjoy an evening meal on the riverbank.

On this family visit we gathered for a picnic by the river at a spot where people parked their boats under a big tree which also protected us from the sun.
We met up with some locals who were skilled fishermen. We didn’t take many things - just some drinks, a fishing net and the items we needed for cooking and camping.
The fishermen went out in their boat with a net and some walked by the river and in less than an hour they came back with enough fish for us to eat.
We cooked up the fish and later had more in the evening which we bought cheaply from people returning from their farms. They had set nets earlier in the day on the outward journey and picked up the catch on their way back.
We knew some of them and they join us for a meal and stayed late into the evening, chatting about their lives.
At night, fishermen use different methods, such as going into the river with a lamp and a fork to catch fish in deeper water where they are more plentiful and bigger.
Fortunately it was a full moon that night so the bright sky aided our nocturnal activities.
I don’t know whether it was our fire that kept them away, but we weren’t bothered by mosquitoes or other insects.
Later in the evening, some of the locals brought us some potent lao hai, a brew made from fermented rice husks that is kept in a large pottery jar for at least a week. It has a great taste but it’s not good to drink too much the first time you try it because it’s quite strong.
We all slept very well in our riverside camp and felt refreshed when we awoke. We weren’t able to sleep late because in the early morning there are the sounds of people engaged in conversation as they wait for a boat to take them to their farm.
A one hour speedboat trip on the river takes you to a beautiful waterfall with large boulders where some visitors like to camp and have a barbecue, the locals told us.
This area isn’t yet well known among tourists but it’s a great destination for people wanting the peace and quiet of a broad green river and the feeling of being somewhere really special.
This year, many areas of Laos suffered from flooding and many houses and farms were damaged.
Luckily the village we visited, which is about 20km from the urban centre of Keo-oudom district in Vientiane province, was not flooded so that most families were able to grow enough rice for their own consumption and have some surplus to sell.

 

By Patithin Phetmeuangphuan
(Latest Update November 3, 2018)

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