Loas time

Trip Start Apr 23, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, September 10, 2007

after taking a 5 mini bus from chiang mai city, we arrive in a small town, Chaing khong. we sent the night in possibably the worst accomodation ive seen so far. a crappy two bed room, with a tolilet placed in the corner with a s foot wall surrounding it(which obviously left a large gap between the top and the roof), and a high population of resident geccos for added ambiamce. it is from here we cross the boarder from thailand into Houayuxai, Laos, and meet with a few guys and girls that we'd be spending the next few days with.

after crossing the Mekong river, to the loas boarder, the boarder control was not at all what i had expected. Literaly just a shake on the opposite side of the river, with no sings or gaurds, they really just let you do what ever you deem best, jsut walk into their county or pay to get a visa. needless to say we opted for the latter. we had already booked our transport down to Louang Phabang, in the form of the l'slow boat', these massive 50 poeple vessels chug down to mekong at a depressing rate, and take two days to arrive at Louang Phabang. So you can image our joy when we were informed the 'speed boats' were stillrunning, despite what the travel agencies had told us. these speed boats make the same leg of the Mekong river in just over 7hours. however this does come with risks. allow me to quote from the travel guide weve been using:

"these five metre terrors accomodate for up to eight passagers...crash helmets and life jackets are handed out before journeys.. but speedboats are by no mean safe. The Mekong has some particulary tricky stretches, with narrow channels threading through rapids and whirlpools, and can be particularly rough during late rainy season (aounds the time holly and i were traveling). Although the drivers swear by their navigational skills, fatal accidents occure with alarming frequency. think twice about taking a speed boat"

Two tickets please!!!

Given the time saving we would make on the speed boat, we were pretty much sold instantly. well i say 'we', i was, and spent 20 minutes convincing holly likewise.:-). id hear about these boats before, as the likes of gmmon (uni mate) had previosuly dared the speed boats, but it wasnt until i saw them with my own eyes that i really got an appreciation for what they were all about. As previosuly stated they are about 5 metres long, and about 1 metre wide, and therefore sit the passanges in twos. when in your seat, your knees are literally up by your ears, and resting on the person infronts back. These things are seriously cramped. then i take a wee glance over to see whats powering this ittle beauty. and i see a 2.0 litre honda vvti engline (orginally sat in a car somewhere) with a massive shaft protruding out the back, with the propella attacted. All of this mounted on some crappy pivoting platform.

Speed would be the key word here, this thing flew at a concerningly quick rate, added to the fact we were sat no highter than 20 centremetres from the water. It made for a very thriling experience. continuiously dodging logs, radips, whirlpools and yes, dead animals. yummy. one of the most concerning things abouty his leg of our trip, was seeing what people put into the river. We saw toilets that flushed into it, food waste being dumped in there, adn to make things worse, we'd travel a few km's down stream and see familys washing in it. totally messed up. But i cannot knock the views and lanscapes that surrounds the northern sections of the Mekong. its totally awsome.
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