I’m On A Boat!
Steven and I have taken our fair share of unusual transportation around the world. Camels, tuk-tuks, Mongolian ponies. But it’s turning out that one of our favorite modes of moving is the small boat.
Last month when we went to India for a friend’s wedding in Mumbai, we also stopped in Varanasi, the holiest town on the Ganges river. Every morning at sunrise, people come down to the riverbanks to dip themselves in the freezing, (and filthy) holy water and send off prayers in the form of floating candle/flower concoctions.
Since out hotel was right on the water, we woke up at five every day to the sounds of the riverbank life and on so, on our last morning we took a two-dollar boat ride to check out the hubbub of the banks from a new angle.
Here’s a peek of what we saw:
That boat ride got us thinking about all the other ones we’ve taken. Our Top 3 from around the world are:
In the south of China near a town called Yangshuo is the Li River and other smaller tributaries. For just a few bucks, you can rent a bicycle and spend the day peddling through the rice fields and jagged limestone karsts, then take a small bamboo boat down the river back home. We did it twice, stupid grins on our face the whole time.
Only a few months later we found ourselves on the Niger River in Mali trying to make it to the ever mysterious Timbuktu. With a local guide, we spent four days on a pinasse, or what is basically a glorified and partially covered canoe, puttering along through fishing villages, past hippos, sleeping on the banks of the river under the stars. Minus the fact that we never actually made it to Timbuktu via the river, we think back on that boat trip as a major success.
And last, kayaking through the turquoise waters of Halong Bay in Vietnam was freaking wonderful. We passed enormous karsts jutting up straight from the water and spotted climbers making their way up them, or falling with a laugh and splash into the water below. We even got to spend the night on an old fashioned sailboat in the bay, literally drifting to sleep.
So two thumbs up for small boat rides during travel—the easiest way to remind you of the meaning of the classic travel mantra, It’s not the destination that matters but the journey.