For the next section of our trip we’d decided to take a slow boat down the Mekong river from Hauy Xai to Luang Prabang. It was to take two days, with a stop over night in Pak Bang.
We’d been recommend by Luke to pay a bit extra to take a luxury boat. The cheap local boats can get very overcrowded. We looked into the luxury boats but none were running due to it being low season. So, local boat it is then! We ended up having a really great time! Our boat was a good mix of backpackers and locals, and we were with David, Daria and Anita from the Gibbon Experience. We got chatting with lots of people, drank beers until the bar was dry and enjoyed the scenery. I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Eight hours on a slow boat is a really great way to travel! No motion sickness, you can walk around a bit, plus it was such a stunning journey. Also, it cost 20 quid each, for sixteen hours of travel! We arrived at the half way point, Pak Bang, and were shoved in the back of a truck and taken to a hostel by some locals. It was half the price of what we usually pay (tenner a night) but I must say….. It was absolutely grim. I took one look at the bathroom and said “no thank you!” And walked back out. We were then taken to somewhere really nice, so we had a good night! We enjoyed good food, more beer then conked out.
The following day on the boat was much of the same. We arrived in Luang Prabang at around 6pm and went to find our guest house.
That evening we met our gibbon/slow boat buddies at a bar called Utopia, which is all outdoors and on the banks of the Mekong. It had loads of mats on the floor so you can be horizontal whilst you drink – definitely my kind of place.
We spent five nights in Luang Prabang because we loved it so much! It was similar to Ubud in Bali… Really chilled and hippie! What I love about travelling is when you find somewhere you really like so you just stay. Here’s a few good memories:
– silly nights spent in Utopia. Being kicked out at 11.30pm and then being bundled into tuk tuks and taken off to the bowling alley with people riding on the roofs and hanging on the back (I was safely inside mum) … Due to the communist government there’s a 12pm curfew in Laos, but the local policeman runs the bowling alley which stays open and is full with drunk backpackers until 2.30pm. I’m crap at bowling but doing it pissed makes it much more enjoyable.
– the best icecream I’ve ever had. Coconut icecream from heaven.
– discovering we had really posh tv channels so avoided the midday heat by lying in the air conditioning and watching The Walking Dead. (Ive reached the point where this doesn’t make me feel guilty at all.)
– a really cool book shop filled with art, where I bought a beautiful tile painted with Buddhas face, made by a local artist. Upstairs they had a cinema room where we spent two evenings watching films.
– the best waterfalls I have EVER seen. Blue water. Stunning.
(Swimming in an infinity pool is on my bucket list. I found the natural version – swimming on the edge of a waterfall. Tick!)
– walking the streets of Luang Prabang and bumping into people you know from the boat. It gave me a sense of familiarity that made me feel like I was back home in Kendal.
– helping a local shake mangoes from a tree with a big stick.
– meeting a survivor of the 2006 Thai Boxing Day tsunami. Out of 120 people in his village, he was one of four survivors. I couldn’t stop thinking about him for days and days and days.
– walking up a lot of steps to visit the temple and watch the sunset. Got fleeced by a “monk” and couldn’t see the sunset for the people. HA
– wandering around hungover and seeing Anita and Patrick and then joining them on a very slow food crawl from cafe to cafe with more friends joining as they bumped into us.
– hot and killer walks to and from the Vietnamese Embassy to get our visas sorted.
We left Laos with heavy hearts. Although we didn’t get to see all of the country, what we did see was beautiful, and we made some wonderful new friends. Until next time!