Two day slow boat trip through Laos.
From Huay Xai to Luang Prabang.
After spending a day of well deserved rest after the gibbon experience in Huay Xai, we descided to take the slow boat to Luang Prabang via a sleepy little fishermen’s village, (made popular by tourists) Pak Beng on the majestic Mekong river. The Mekong is one of the main river in Southeast Asia and 12th longest in the world.
We arrived at the departure dock in Haux Hai bought some provisions for lunch seeing as its a 2 day trip- 12 hours each day and no food on board. We gingerly make our way to the boat, we didn’t expect a grand departure dock, but going down a questionable gang way made of rooting bamboo with 20kg of baggage was unexpected considering 60-100 tourists, PER DAY walk down these steps! We boarded the longboat, sat in our seats (stolen from a coach bus and not bolted down!) and waited, waited and waited some more to depart.
The slow boat is an excellent way to take in some of the beautiful sites the Mekong river has to offer, the first 2 hours of our trip we where blessed with having Thailand on out right and Lao on our left until turning more inland where the landscape becomes wild and the presance of man is not detectable, except for us and the other boats that venture the tretourus Mekong river.
After some 7 hours of sailing we arrived in Pak Beng a once sleepy fishermen’s village used as a night rest stopover for local’s now made touristy with modern guest houses and restaurants dotted around the main road and only road this village has to offer. We didn’t prebook our accommodation so before settling down with a cold beer in hand we had to search for a bed. Here just for on night a lot of guest houses don’t care for hospitality much, that said we stayed in a reasonably priced room with AC. So after taking a shower we headed out for a walk to watch the sunset.
Woke up for an early departure to finish the last leg of our trip to Luang Prabang. After 9 hours+ of cruising the river, and watching the locals along side catching (pretty giant) catfish, naked babies swimming as our boat came alongside the bank to hand out rice and other provisions to the locals we were ready to GET OFF THE BOAT once we had arrived in “Luang Prabang”
The other people on our boat, whom we had made friends with by this point expressed some concern that we were infact at the wrong stop. About 10K outside of Luang Prabang city, our promised destination we were being hustled in a cleverly devised plan. Locals drop the slow boat passengers off outside the city (Where there is absolutely nothing, but 5 or so tuk-tuks eagerly waiting to rip you off. At first we all (and by “we all” I mean the 50+ 20 – 25year olds on the boat refused to leave. Until the locals became difficult by expressing will the call the police. We then decided to walk to the city centre in a peaceful protest against this unfair scam.
After walking 10KM with 20K on our backs we were pretty exhausted and very happy to finally be checking into our beautiful guest house in Luang Prabang.by