Meandering down the Mekong

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Monday, September 4, 2006

After a buffet breakfast at which I spent most of my time reacquainting myself with what a toaster looks like we left to take a small canoe like boat with a huge car engine stuck on the back to cross the Mekong to Laos.

Surprised to find I was given a 30 day visa on arrival but even more surprised at those happily paying 1500 Baht for it instead of the $30 alternative, not that I blame the border guys for that if people are willing to do so.

The slow boat down the Mekong takes 2 days and 1 night with a stop in a small town called Pak Beng on the way but is a better or at least safer option than the speedboats that you can take in 1 day but have to sit with a crash helmet on with little to no leg room listening to the roar of the strapped on car engine at the back for 7 hours or so. Apparently fatalities are not uncommon with this option due to hitting rocks and logs and such on the river.

Anyway, the slow boat was basic with just little wooden benches to sit on for the 60 or so people on board with most just taking in the scenery, reading or playing cards until the Beer Lao started to flow which from the sounds of it was what the boat engine was probably running on.

Docking into Pak Beng people scrambled off the boat to secure a bed for the night with us ambling off last to follow a little kid promising a good clean room for next to nothing with great views of the river. He was not wrong.

Heading out for dinner, Pak Beng reminded us of more of an old western town with saloon like wooden buildings with all the restaurants just lit by candlelight since there is only electricity here in the evening running off generators.

Hooking up with two other Dutch girls and two Australian girls from the boat we chose a place to eat with the best coke can candle holders before spending the rest of the evening on the balcony getting more familiar with Beer Lao.
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