Never thought I'd be on a Boat
Trip Start Mar 27, 2012
34Trip End Ongoing
When we decided top take the slow boat, I don't think we fully understood just how slow it would be. Our journey from Pai to Luang Prabang took 3 days all in all and consisted of 2 minivans, 3 trucks, 1 bus and 3 boats. You won't hear bout all that now though! I'm just going to take you to Pakbeng, two thirds of the way.
So, it all began on a stormy afternoon in Pai. Seriously the rain was awful! We are definitely in the wet season now. We hopped on our first mini bus to Chiang Mai again. Only a short 3 hour ride, though on the windy mountainous roads of Northern Thailand it felt like a much longer journey. Thankfully our driver was used to the bad conditions and got us to Chiang Mai alive!
From there we hopped onto another mini bus to Chiang Kong, which is where the border crossing to Laos is
All in all day 1 on the road went pretty smoothy and we went to bed in high spirits. Little did we know that the next day would be quite a different story.
We woke up feeling refreshed and ready to get into Laos, shortly to discover that the rest of the hostel was empty. Everyone had already gone to the border. Stressed and running around like headless chickens in the back streets of Chiang Kong, the hostel owner finally found us and set us back on the right track.
After crossing the border and sorting out our visas and kip ( a process which took about 3 hours), we arrived on slow boat number 1 and left an hour after it's scheduled time. If you ever come to Laos you will hear the term 'Laos' time' a lot! Everyone is so laid back here that everything takes a little longer than anywhere else, and you'll experience this culture change the second you step into the country as we did.
We would be on this slow boat for roughly 6 hours, and it was fairly comfortable...ish
As we've already discussed, Laos is now in the wet season so there are thunderstorms every day here, and before half the first bottle was drunk we hit a big one! As it began the boat pulled onto a sand bank, where we assumed we would be waiting it out. What actually happened is that once the storm was in full swing, the captain though it best to set off again. Lord knows why? It was a bit of a rough ride, then the roof started to fly off and it became a terrifying ride. A few people were clutching onto the roof when the boat started to rock, nearly capsized and was blown into a sandbank (thankfully we missed the rocks.) This time we waited for the rest of it to pass, even the Laos folks looked distressed so you know it must have been a bad 'un.
A few hours later we were in Pakbeng, very wet and tired, but still seeing the fun side of the whole adventure.
Roll on boat number 2 to Luang Prabang.