The journey up the Nam Ou was incredibly beautiful, but a bit unnerving. Our boat was filled past capacity and a tropical depression that made landfall to the north had sent huge uprooted trees flowing directly at us. Sticking close to the riverside, our captain avoided most of the debris. However, no amount of caution could help us avoid the gauntlet of rapids and whirlpools on the river. Hitting the latter in a boat our size was quite a seat-gripping experience.