LAOS: Wildcamping alongside the Mekong River (Part One)


Half an hour ago, you had hung your hammocks, foraged enough wood to keep a fire burning long into the night, and then had a wash in the river. The amount of dirt you had accumulated on your skin from the day’s walking had stained your washcloth brown, and the dirty water dripping from your hair was the colour of weak coffee.

Finally clean, you walked around the bizarre potholes in the dried river bed and over to Felix, who had produced a satisfactory camp fire after a few minutes of tinkering. Tomatoes, onions, and a few local vegetables were chopped up and thrown into a pot of stock to make a rudimentary soup. The three of you ate it straight from the pot, while a handful of taro roots baked in the embers for desert.

Pakse, Mekong River

“This is so beautiful.” Alex murmurs. The river gushes somewhere faraway, and over the cool evening air, you can hear the wobbling call of a monkey.

The three of you lie in silence, watching tiny pinpricks of light move across the sky, faster than an airplane, and too steady to be shooting stars; they were probably satellites. You sit up and shuffle over to the fire to test the taro for doneness. The blackened, leathery skin splits easily, and you scoop out some of the creamy purple flesh.

FYI I kept my clothes on.
FYI I kept my clothes on.

It was one those moments that you begin to mourn before it has even finished: the fear and then the rush of relief when you find a safe place to sleep at night, and the primeval joys of building and then cooking on a fire- all shared with people who were perfect strangers a fortnight ago.

For as long as you can remember, you have always had trouble getting to sleep. That night, exhausted, contentedly full, and swaddled in a cocoon of shirts and scarves and mosquito netting, it happens within minutes.


  1. What a lovely recounting of a sweet slice of life. I felt like I was there with you, and at the same time remembered some of my own similar moments. Thank you.

  2. sounds like an amazing adventure you have there. I’m glad that you enjoy nature! I do too. I’ve been backpacking and camping in the wild for a while now! I’m actually interning for some whale biologists at a national park in the last frontier of Alaska!

    I’ve just started a blog. Drop by, take a look and drop some advice if you want to 🙂

    Happy travelling!

  3. I’m way behind on your blog, Lana, but I love that so many of your entries evoke a fully-realized atmosphere in just a few paragraphs. I so often need multiple pages to do the same. 🙂

    Nice entry!

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