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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.

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Early morning fog on the river.

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It thickens and visibility gradually falls to near-zero.

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As the day warms, the fog burns off.

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The vista opens.

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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.

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With the sky clear at last, the water's silt load is illuminated.

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A mandatory stop for checking papers. This is January, and the police post moves uphill during summer's high water.

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There's a village here: Muang Paktha.

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Pretty basic.

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Back on the river: rippling sedimentary layers.

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A stop at a bigger place, catering to the river traffic.

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View from the river. The building is a restaurant; the village of Pakbeng lies just beyond.

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Main Street.

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Off again and passing a beach where logs are waiting to be taken downstream.

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More patches of rocky banks.

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More logs and speedboats.

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How did the logs get to the river? Here's your answer.

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Judging from the elephant's lean into the harness, the resistance must be very considerable.


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