We’d be travelling a whole month and were yet to change countries, so we figured it was time to correct that. For our last night in Thailand we stayed in a lovely guesthouse on the banks of the Mekong (Baanrimtaling Home Stay) with friendly and well-informed hosts. They gave us good advice about crossing the next day and shared plenty of stories. After a lot of discussing and changing of minds (one 5 minutes before we were due to leave!) we opted for the 2-day slow boat trip down the Mekong from Huay Xai (the Lao town opposite Thailand’s Chaing Khong) to Luang Prabang, which ended up being rather eventful!
We’d been warned that transport in Laos is somewhat unreliable, but were still taken a little aback when our slow boat broke down after just 1 hour on the move. An hour or so later another boat came along and we all had to step across onto that one whilst moored in the middle of the mighty Mekong:
The second boat was, unfortunately, rather smaller than the first, so there was a bit of a fight for seats and we spent the next 7 hours packed in like hot, sweaty sardines, but still enjoying the amazing scenery and weather as we glided down the river.
The overnight was spent at a rather grubby town called Pak Beng, which seems to only exist to provide basic mafia-run accommodation to slow-boaters. Next morning we were on the boat at 7.20am to get ourselves a seat (we were in the first 10 to do so, so got nice ones!). It was only later it became apparent that 2 boats would do the second leg, so there was actually plenty of space. This day took everyone by surprise as it was actually COLD! People ended up in sleeping bags, cowering behind umbrellas etc. Lizzy had her normal clothes, pyjamas, my shirt and a poncho on to keep her warm. Very annoying that our main packs were stowed below deck, so we couldn’t access our really warm stuff! Anyway, we arrived in Luang Prabang ahead of schedule to begin getting to know Laos.