After three days or so in Luang Prabang, I was ready to move on. I could have stayed lots longer if I’d had the time, but time was one thing I was running out of. I had three more days of “vacation” and knew I needed to start heading back in the direction of
The first leg of the trip back was in a very overcrowded bus from Luang Prabang to Xayabuli. A bunch of us sat on plastic chairs in the aisle with only open windows and fans for air cooling. Everyone – whether in real seats or plastic – took it in stride and so did I. The scenery made up for the cramped quarters.
I was not impressed with Xayabuli (also spelled Xayaburi, Xaignabouli, Xaignabouri, Sayabouri and Sainyabuli) when I first visited there in October 2012. But, I think my first impressions were tainted by coming in on the very day that electricity was out, citywide, and being run off by begging street urchins down by the riverside. This time I didn’t have either problem, plus I was based at a guesthouse closer to the riverside, where I wanted to be. I had a very pleasant late afternoon/early evening there, eating and drinking at an outdoor vendor’s table.
Although a spot that’s somewhat off the tourist track, Xayabuli and Xayabuli province are important. As I wrote in 2012, east of Xayabuli is the location of Lao’s first dam across the Mekong, currently 10% completed. There are many sides to this story and here are some links to it:
What I wrote back in October 2012: http://the-isaan.blogspot.com/2012_10_01_archive.html
“Amazon of Asia” video, done in 2010: http://the-isaan.blogspot.com/2012/11/amazon-of-asia.html
“Earth Reporters” video done in 2011 is a bit dated, but gives a great, personal overview. I re-posted it here in November 2012: http://the-isaan.blogspot.com/2012/11/xayabuli-dam-detail.html
International Rivers Media Kit on the Xayabuli Dam, including latest information: http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/media-kit-on-the-xayaburi-dam-3412
Recent RFA video (not in English, but some English sub-titles and excellent video quality and graphics): http://youtu.be/QIIqo-IAiz4
Diagrams of the project, in three phases (click on image for closer view):