Man overboard! Well not quite.......

Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
Trip End Dec 10, 2010

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Saturday, December 23, 2006

We've just arrived in a stunning, unspoilt country and have been welcomed with open arms. What can we say about the Laotian people? Really genuinely lovely people. There is no other way to describe their character.

We got the bus to Chiang Khong at the Laos border, then took a small boat across the river and spent our first night on Laos soil in Huay Xai, a really small, quiet little place. The following morning we caught the slow boat down the Mekong bound for the half-way mark at Pak Beng. It was to take 7 hours...... However the Laos people are not quite used to tourism just yet. The boat was severly overloaded with people (around 180 people) ensuring that at least 50 people didn't even get seats and ended up sitting on the floor for the entire journey.

Throughout the journey boat staff would disappear down the rear of the boat and come back up offering everyone bottles of Beerlao which people happily purchase but by the time they got to the top of the boat they always had a few left over.The captain took care of those and there were about 6 empty large beer bottles at the foot of his station when we were getting off the boat, this explains a lot!! The right-hand side of the boat was fuller than the left with people because of the seating layout and engine room at the back and when the driver took a sharp turn the boat tipped over 90 degrees on its side and the water flowed over the edge soaking everyone in the right-hand side of the boat (including us!) Some people almost fell overboard! The driver slowed a bit after that......

Arriving at Pak Beng we contemplated getting a bus or something the rest of the way to Luang Prabang but it was in the middle of nowhere and we'd have had to get a bus up North first, adding about 2 days to the journey, so we decided that we'd continue the journey in the slow boat. We'd already had an experience the first day, what are the odds of something going wrong on the second leg, it'll be fine..............ahem..........on to Luang Prabang...

Glad we didn't take the fast boat though. You have to wear crash helmets and life jackets, they look crazy!

If we can recommend anything in Pak Beng it's the Indian restaurant up the street to the left after you get off the boat, yum!! We went there for dinner and a few drinks after our cold showers at the hostel. Every building here is run on generators and none have hot water, it's a far cry from Thailand and the little material luxuries are slowly but surely starting to fade.....and that's not a bad thing!
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