Rafting The Lower Nam Ou

Paddle Production

Making a paddle

The Laos are about 400 years behind in their paddle technology: all they have are crappy, small, canoe-like paddles.

A piece of bamboo, a board, some screws, and a machette, and I was back in the 20th century with a double bladed, feathered kayak paddle.

Can't tell if this kid's amazed, bored, or afraid I'm going to hit him with it!

Proof Testing Boat-hemoth

Monster Raft

"Boat-hemoth," my aptly named vessel, was constructed with 44 thick, twenty-foot long bamboo poles. I estimate the boat and gear weighed in at about 500 pounds. This monster took about 5 minutes just to turn it 180 degrees.

It was fashioned by "Mr. Kampoo who sells the bamboo," and while quite stable, was impossible to navigate through the rapids.

The Scenery Was "Just OK"


Feast In My Honor


I stayed in the little Ha Kho village along the Nam Ou the night I got off the river.

It is a Lao tradition to hold a celebration for guests from other villages. Plus, they'd never had a farang (foreigner) stay in their village before.

Bondage, Laos Style

Strings tied around wrists

The celebration involves several rituals. In one of them, people tie strings around your wrists to bind you with good luck. Could have used that BEFORE the raft trip.


Page Revised 5/18/00