The next day we took a bus up to the Thai-Laos border in Chiang Khong. The town was a nice quiet little places with cheap cheap cheap guest houses and some decent food. We got up at like 5:30 in the morning to beat some of the border rush and went looking for some breakfast. We followed a sign that said something like B-fast on the Mekong and ran into two very angry and snarling dogs. One of them was big enough to do some serious damage. I was wearing flip flops and didn't even have a pocket knife. I thought we were toast. At the very last moment the just let up. Some scary shit. Rabies is on my list of things not to try here.
Anyway the border was hectic and sort of confusing
. The Thai side was slow but orderly. The Laos side was nuts. You give your passport and a picture to a guy behind a window after pushing your way to the front for a half hour or so and he takes it and says nothing at all. That's when you realize that the line is so disorderly because everyone who gave up their passport just has to stand around for about twenty mins. wondering what's happening. Occasionally the guy behind the window yells something and hold up a passport. The confused and disoriented owner of the passport snatches at it like one of those starved dogs on the other side of the river. After that you give one guy 35 dollars and they give you back your passport. Not done yet. You have to go to another line and stand there wondering why for a few minutes just to be informed by a guy in the other window that you need to have a departure slip already filled out with your new visa number. As soon as people hear this there's something that can best be described as a politely desperate scramble for the one pen that seems to be on the counter.
After all that you walk to the bottom of the stairs to be harassed by people who try to rip you off for your boat or bus tickets to wherever. The even say things like "oh no you can't get there from here.... maybe tomorrow. Come to my guest house". It's best just to push by them, walk to the top of the hill, and get a Tuk-Tuk to the boat ramp. We picked up a ticket to Luang Prabang on a two day slow boat for 25 bucks
. The slow boat is whatever you make of it. People warned us about the long terribly uncomfortable ride. Some people raved about it being one of their best experiences in Laos. It was fine. The scenery was great, the beers were cold, and a guy even had a guitar. One piece of advice though; Get your Baht to dollar and kip to baht to dollar conversions straight. The people on the boat will "forget" the rest of your change and the people in the overnight town of Pak Bang will straight up try to confuse you into paying more than you mean.
All in all we had a great time on the boat. Just look at the pics
So we met up with Justin and Bibeka (friends from Jackson) in Chaing Mai. Their trip and ours don't really match up so we only hung for a couple of days. We rented some motorbikes and went up on this mountain/national park thingy. I put up some pics so check them out.