The idea of a river cruise in some far off distant land has appealed to me for some time. Rivers are the lifeblood of a country with everyday life clearly visible on the bank. The thought of slowly drifting along, watching the world go by and not having to unpack and repack every few days was alluring. Add to that shore excursions to remote villages and temples, delicious food and the opportunity of an afternoon nap simply added to the attraction.
So when an opportunity presented itself to cruise south from Vientiane on the Mekong, I jumped at the chance. The boat and the experience lived up to all my expectations. At 48m long, it had a large, partially covered upper deck with reclining chairs, bar and lots of space. The middle deck had four air-conditioned suites with balconies and an open-air dining room. The lower deck housed the en-suite cabins with sliding French windows and air-conditioning should you need it and the wonderful Laotian crew to look after our every need.
But that is where the fantasy ended. All the excursions were into Thailand, and that area is dull with nothing of any importance to see. As such I will not bore you with the details. Such a shame.
There are two lessons to learn. The first is that our role is not only to find new and exciting ideas for travel but equally importantly it is to experience the things we would not recommend.
The second lesson is that fortunately, we have tried many alternative river boat journeys on the Irrawaddy, the lower section of the Mekong, the Amazon and Brahmaputra to name but a few. They meet all our expectations.