Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slow Boat to Laos - Day three, Pak Beng to Luang Prabang

Day three was the final step in my journey from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos.

I got up pretty early - thanks to some ungodly sounding roosters (I swear one of them sounded like a goat) and got some breakfast. Some of my fellow travelers were there already, so I just pulled up a chair. Again - it's nice to have someone to chat with over a meal.
on the deck overlooking the Mekong

Breakfast was AWESOME... even if nearly as expensive as the room (trying to mentally convert everything between baht, kip and dollars, this was not something I figured out until the next day). I had an omelet with cheese* (Laughing Cow) and a freshly baked, warm from the oven baguette. It was AMAZING. Oh it was delicious. And I was not the only one to mention it, as more people kept coming down we all kept recommending the omelets "It has CHEESE in it!" A nice hot cup of tea was the perfect touch as we sat on the terrace overlooking the misty Mekong we would soon be traveling down .... again!
The guesthouse as seen from the river.

I picked up another sandwich to go, and headed down to the docks. The boat was not the same one we'd taken on the first day.
Nope... it was smaller, and if possible even less comfortable. Again the cushions were a good investment, but just not enough. People were laying in the aisles, under benches, on the benches, on each other... just trying to eek out some comfort. I did okay managing to score a whole bench for myself (I'd saved it for someone from our group - but he decided to sit in on the floor in the back), so I can't complain too much.... well I can - it's damned uncomfortable... but at least I had more room with which to be uncomfortable than other folks had.

The scenery was more wild green jungle, more muddy river, more mists in the hills. Honestly, it's beautiful... but an hour or three is plenty. Two days is a bit much. But it did get quite spectacular as we got closer to Luang Prabang.

And then, right on schedule we were there.
I got split up from my travel group, but followed another couple from the boat and found a cheap guest house near the center of town. VERY basic and with a shared bathroom... but I'm telling you, my standards have gotten quite low here. I figure Laos will be where I try to save a bit of money and get back on budget. We'll see how that goes.

So, my final analysis? The slow boat from Thailand to Laos is not completely horrible. It's long and uncomfortable, but there's beer & you see a LOT of really amazing scenery. The thing is, you can see the best of it on a 2 hour slow boat tour from Luang Prabang to the Buddha cave. Sooooo.... I would suggest flying or taking a bus to Luang Prabang from where ever, then doing the tour. You'll have get a taste of the experience without having like DAYS of it. Unless you really do want to send a couple days on the Mekong - which really is quite an experience!

*Or, as written on the menu 'Sheese'


Michael5000 said...


Stacey said...

Those photographs are wonderful!