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четверг, 19 января 2017 г.

Laos: nostalgic Mekong River Cruise (15 photo)

On the banks of Champassak, the "Vat Phou" heads south and 4,000 islands

The former "Kingdom of a Million Elephants" is a country with nonchalant charm, living to the rhythm of yesteryear in the meanders of its feeder river. This is the last country in Southeast Asia where one can still taste the flavors of a colonial East disappeared. To discover urgently before the next invasion of mass tourism ...

The former "Kingdom of a Million Elephants" is a country with nonchalant charm, living to the rhythm of yesteryear in the meanders of its feeder river. This is the last country in Southeast Asia where one can still taste the flavors of a colonial East disappeared. To discover urgently before the next invasion of mass tourism ...  

the song of the geckos and the melody of the bullfrogs are unmistakable. Soon dusk will wrap the Mekong. And the night cover the surrounding jungle. River traffic must stop. On "Water Sea" as call Laos, navigation is subtle. Sometimes dangerous. On this royal road which crosses the country nearly 2,000 kilometers must maneuver custody. This nourishing river around which beats the heart of Laos is sure of his eternity and strength.

Able to swallow up everything in its path at the height of the rainy season when it rises 15 meters and floods the banks, it is capricious the coming dry season.

From the rail of the "Vat Phou" our boat hotel while teak, there are at the discretion of the cruise vicious bubbling scattered in its muddy waters. And if the captain chose to cycle through the dense jungle panoramas and voracious around at low speeds, it is primarily for slalom delicately around sandbanks that dot his bed

Here, no sonar or sophisticated card to reveal the pitfalls of the course. It's the old, judgmental and fishermen through information that we progress on the Mekong. Party from the port (Continued on page 116) Craft Champassak, the "Vat Phou" invites daydreaming. In a twelve air-conditioned cabins, one begins to look pass the landscape as Captain Willard in "Apocalypse Now."

Often, poor families send their children to the monastery, giving him a chance to get out© Guillaume Soularue
It was in Vietnam but Laos, the most bombed country in the world during this war has nothing to envy matter dense and mysterious atmosphere. As proof, the Vat Phou, located at the foot of Mount Phou Passak. This temple could have been the hideout where was isolated Colonel Kurtz in his madness. Lost in nature, built between the sixth and the twelfth century, it belongs to a set of pre-Angkorian religious sites covering a wide area straddling Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.

The empire of Chenla, at the origin of the construction, even extended to Burma. Khmer architects have restored many parts. This is why we find the Vat Phou many elements known as Angkor roads paved with stones, decorative lintels and bas-reliefs. The climb to the top is via a steep staircase which discourages some. Wrongly. The view overlooking the jungle behind which stands along the Mekong River is truly breathtaking.

The Mekong River around which beats the heart of Laos, sure of his eternity

Back on the shady promenade deck, rattan chairs would calm the most agitated. Boat staff glide silently and barefoot, like everyone else, on the pearly wooden floor. Interrupting the reverie in which you find yourself forgetting that the day has already eaten half of your time. The "Vat Phou" gently winds its muddy waters, crossing the road sampans, frail craft that elongated tub in our 34-meter traverse destabilizing the seat of the fisherman at the controls. No sin in his eyes but a smile, as it is traditional in Asia.

Inside the cabin of the "Vat Phou" the images of "The Lover" you come back in memory.© Guillaume Soularue
Further down south opens the border of 4,000 islands, known as Si Phan Don, an archipelago that stretches in the middle of the Mekong. It is here that the river sometimes overflows to extend 14 kilometers wide. Navigation practice it in slow motion, and board a boat much lighter than our boat. Hundreds of islands are scattered across the meandering river. This is where the great French dream of a line connecting all the colonial empire broke. On the island of Don Det, one can also see the remains of the only Laos railways, and even the carcass of an old rusty locomotive.

Laos has nothing to envy in Vietnam in terms of the thick and mysterious atmosphere

In this landscape, each island invites docking. And since it had to choose one, it was Don Daeng. Long strips of gray sand spread along its banks. It is here that Antoine de Noailles, great French lawyer, considered it best to work his files. The point of wanting to come back often and decide it was even easier to build an up-to-earth.

In Luang Prabang, the shore is dotted with small restaurants in the open where people come to watch the sun set© Guillaume Soularue
This was the Folie Lodge. A haven of tranquility where Jean d'Ormesson sometimes draw inspiration comes from contemplating the flag of the owner, decorated like a cabinet of curiosities, the vermilion sunset sun.

Hot deal: The Luang Say Luang Prabang
It is not difficult to recognize an exceptional hotel. At the first stroke of course eye. But especially when we realize that we have no desire to leave his room as there is. This is the case of the Luang Say Residence yet located in the middle of Luang Prabang, one of the most beautiful cities in the world! This colonial residence nestled in the heart of the tropical jungle spreads its 24 suites all wood in a refinement that makes one shudder wellness. The luxurious modern comforts remind you that we are in 2016 and not in 1890, but a rare attention to detail surrounds an entire quaint atmosphere. As subtle wooden casing housing the flat screen to melt in this setting from another century. 1860 bar and a cigar lounge where one can easily imagine the weary explorers converse after trips from another era. In the lush garden foliage huge lull the tranquility of the pool complete immerse yourself in a universe, definitely, it is struggling to pull for, anyway, to visit the city. Room from 362 €.
Do not miss: The Niagara Falls Southeast Asian
Located near the border crossing with Cambodia, in the far south of Laos Khone Pha Pheng are the most impressive waterfalls in the country. A promontory kiosk allows guests to enjoy the view of the 13 kilometers of fast running on just 18 vertical meters, but the wide arms of 300 meters breaks on submerged rocks. Needless to imagine swim without wanting to say goodbye to life. However, some local do not hesitate to brave the fury of the waves. In the morning, fishermen take advantage of the power flow to retrieve the fish have to be carried away by the current into their nets. Using two poles, they direct operations suspended from a bamboo bridge, one wonders at every moment how it does not break.

To discover
Asia, bespoke travel specialist in Asia, Laos offers an off the beaten track along the Mekong, 3 day cruise on the great river on the "Vat Phou". Individual route from Paris to Paris: 10 days-7 nights. 1 night at the Ansara Vientiane, cruising aboard the "Vat Phou" (3 days 2 nights) full board, 1 night in Pakse, 3 nights in Luang Prabang in Luang Say Residence. Price per person in double room from € 3,262. For southern Laos and the region of the 4000 Islands, Asia offers exclusive cruise "Vat Phou" in 3-days 2 nights in Pakse Pakse. River Temple: 3 days-2 nights. Price per person: € 929.

It was voted best long-haul airline in 2016 by Business Traveller. Singapore Airlines flies to Laos (Vientiane and Luang Prabang) three times a week via Singapore SilkAir, a subsidiary. Even eco in A380, comfort is guaranteed, not to mention the refined service aboard the famous "Singapore Girls". In the new Premium Economy class, SIA offers new chair and a spacing of 96.5 centimeters between each row of seats that make travel easy. But if we can, it's business class that we must offer. Singapore Airlines has the most spacious seat beds on the market (86 centimeters wide, it's almost too much!) And offers gourmet dishes signed by 8 international chefs including Georges Blanc, three Michelin stars.

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