LPDR (Lao Please Don't Rush)
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
99Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
Pra Beng Guesthouse
We arrived in Chiang Khong and got into action. Straight into a Tuk Tuk to find the 'Easy Ride' travel agent. Here, we were able to book a comfortable passage over the border and onward on a two day boat ticket to Luang Prabang. They also made us fill in Laos immigration and visa forms to save the hassle at the border in Laos.
Another Tuk Tuk took us to the departure immigration office of Thailand next to the river. A quick stamp and we were gently balancing our way onto a thin long boat. I was excited for Dave, the first time he has crossed a border like this, away from the Western world and catching a 5 minute long boat to the other side. The other side being Huay Xai in Laos.
The travel agent provided a young lad who joined us on the boat, while we went to Laos immigration for our 'Visa on arrival' he looked after our bags. The immigration office is a bit of a mess. There is no room to stand, two or three different lines and supposedly, organised chaos. Basically, you hand in your passport and visa. Then wait for your name to be called out. That happens ten minutes later, you pay your fee then pop to another desk to confirm the process has been completed properly. I overheard some British guys who showed up over the river in Laos without the exit stamp from Thailand, so were sent back over the river.
Our young lad had a bag of lunch waiting for us and we were transferred to a man on the Laos side, who walked us to his office where we could dump our bags and then had 30 minutes to kill. We found a small cafe to grab a coffee while Dave used the rest room facilities!!
Later, we were driven to the boat dock, given our ticket and were left to fend for ourselves. We decided to find a seat on the boat and wait for the 10am departure. It was another long boat, slightly wider and your large back pack is stored under the main floor of the boat.
This is when we realised we had joined a 'party' boat. There were three knobs from the UK sat infront of three slags from Canada (I'm not going to apologise for my language!) who were already drinking at 9am, smoking on the deck when told not to and and had brought a speaker for their ipod spending two hours playing the same Oasis album over and over. I think you all know these are 'party' travellers that I do not associate myself with. Ironically, we did sit behind them, but moved after 5 minutes. My face dropped, my expression of excitement for a fun day ahead turned to disappointment in that I will subjected to these 6 idiots! Those numbers soon multiplied, a woman from the USA, probably in her late 40s, came onto the boat, sat near the 6 idiots, stood up with a beer and screamed rock n roll!! WTF!
There was a 50/50 split on the boat. Those that feel they have to party and those that were there to enjoy the boat ride, enjoy close company and see the Laos part of the Mekong river and all the little villages that dot the banks of the river. I didn't board the boat to listen to party people making the journey very uncomfortable for others. Another thing that rattled my cage (bubble) was the complete disrespect for the Laos boat captain and his colleagues. Regularly they told the party people to sit on a seat and not on the edge (one woman died recently falling off a boat and not resurfacing) but they ignored him. It left a disgusting taste in my mouth, I apologised to Diana about the Brits. I hate that part of society where I come from. They are deliberately being loud to intimidate others, it's completely unacceptable and very bad karma. i also told her to avoid areas of Greece, Spain and Thailand that are poplated with English idiots.
Ok, enough of the moaning, when the engines started around midday, the music was drowned out and the noises coming from the drunks was drowned out too. I'll describe Diana on my next blog, but she is studying sociology, so we had a little fun discussing the group dynamics of the 6 idiots I described and the complexes each one of them probably has. For example one of the Canadian girls, was pretty quiet but practically naked and constantly sticking her chest out, no doubt suffering from very low self esteem, their feathers also got ruffled when other females approached the three Brit boys.
Anyway, poor Diana endured around 8 hours of Tony chatting. It's great when you meet a like minded person who actually listens to what you say. We enjoyed our lunch and enjoyed the views from the boat. We caught Dave boy taking a cheeky nap too!! We stopped at one sand bank to cool the boat engine, everyone got off, well, except us and the Canadian slags started rolling around in the sand and another girl spent ten minutes pretending she was going to jump in the river, while 6 lads egged her on, standing their like dogs on heat. Sorry, this must be my first negative blog since I started, but, my senses had a terrible day and I want you to empathise. Although, I was lucky I was there with Dave and Diana and not on my todd. So, while everyone was on the beach, or watching the idiots on the beach, Diana and I looked the other way and fell in love with the opposite view of the river. Words lose me again.
Around 530pm we docked in Pak Beng. There is a mad rush to find an inexpensive and safe guesthouse while also waiting on a small unsteady dock for your baggage. We were lucky, in Huay Xai, we booked a triple bed room in a guesthouse. It was cheap and it saved the headache later. Only, we paid in full and just had a random receipt. So, while Dave and Diana waited for the bags, I went up to the village to find our guesthouse and confirm the booking was legitimate. Thankfully it was, I got the key and went back to the dock to grab the other two.
The view from the dock was stunning.
Once we settled into our little triple, we wandered out for some dinner. We explored the length of the small village and settled on a cute little place, that surprisingly had wifi. We met one girl in the restaurant who had her bag snatched by a moving motorcycle in a nearby town. My heart ached for her, she lost her passport, wallet, camera, phone etc. Terrible. I think at one point she was on skype and the tears were streaming down her face. I hate feeling so helpless like that.
The food in Laos does taste good, it is not as spicy as Thailand, but it takes a VERY long time to arrive at your table. We were in no rush and we enjoyed getting to know Diana more and it didn't take long before she was understanding our sarcasm and was joining in herself.
We called it a night early.
The nights in northern Laos are very cool, so Diana, being the tiny little thing she is, needed to wrap up warm.
We got ourselves sorted the next day and enjoyed free drinks from our guesthouse. They made some baguettes for our lunch and Dave and Diana headed up the road to a croissant place to cheekily sneak a breakfast into our guesthouse.
We soon realised the boat was filling up quick, so I ran the bags down with Dave. We found three seats and I went back to the guesthouse to get Diana and finish my coffee. Only on the way up, did I feel my pockets (as I usually do) but there was no itouch. I left it in my room on charge and had already checked out! I ran up the hill, ran passed Diana who also mentioned my itouch and luckily the room was open with the itouch still on charge! Phew!! I sat next to Diana and struggled to get my breath for a few minutes. Another life gone!
The boat left Pak Beng and we weren't subjected to the noise from the previous day. The Canadian slags were like mice but the British lads carried on drinking, but right at the back of the boat. We think the 6 of them had a falling out. The next 8 hours involved Dave listening to his itouch while Diana and I chewed the fat over everything! I guess those who know me or have met me know I love to talk but so does Diana, so before you knew it, 8 hours disappeared and we arrived into Luang Prabang.
As we were getting off the boat, the three British lads stripped to their underwear and jumped in the river from the boat. It confirmed their status as knobs! I hope I never bump into them ever again.
We pulled our bags onto the dock, steadiy climbed a hill to the main road where Diana pointed to her right and we watched the sun setting on the Mekong River. Bliss.
Next stop, Luang Prabang.