Slow Boat or Hell Boat
Trip Start Apr 11, 2005
54Trip End ??? ??, 2006
Now there are two main choices for getting to Laos from where we were in Thailand, you either take a fast boat (6hrs to Luang Probang) or the slow boat (2days to Luang Probang). Now let me outline the reason for the slow boat from hell, its quite simple, the fast boats explode on impact with anything that isn't water and the fact that the driver wears a crash helmet and life jacket when there isn't enough for everyone else aboard speaks volumes to me! Only that week had we heard of a fast boat sprouting a leak and sinking with everyone's luggage aboard and we passed one that had broken down along the river in the middle of nowhere (and we didn't stop to help!). So the choice was simple, 2days of hard bench hell
It isn't as bad as it sounds really, the benches are hard and the journey is long but we had good company, beer (which one lad managed to drink the bar dry) and great scenery, oh and the most important thing we arrived at our destination with all our limbs attached. I can't say I'd do it again but at least we've done it now.
I think the most enjoyable part of the boat (apart from the amazing scenery) was meeting the amount of people we did and how quickly the group seemed to gel together, I suppose it's because you all have a common interest, travel and sore bums. The boat quickly became a little community with food being shared as well as other things! And story's being exchanged etc It was quite a hive of activity and the great things was once you'd exhausted one person there were dozens more to go and speak to and it didn't stop on the boat once we reached Luang Probang we were off in our little groups to find accommodation, you also keep bumping into the same people whilst walking around the town and I dare say most of the group will be leaving around the same time as us or we will see them again in the next town as everyone seems to be heading south!
Luang Probang is a funny place, it has a more relaxed feeling than Thailand, whether that's because there isn't as much traffic (more push bikes), or whether it's because you can actually walk 200mtrs without been hassled a dozen times by tuk tuk drivers etc I don't really no
The only problem were having at the moment is working in 4 different currencies. You have Laos Kip, Thai Baht, US Dollar and UK pound. The average bartering experience for us goes something like, "right so it's 20,000 kip, right that's about 80 baht so that's about, oh god how much is that in dollars ah it's about $2 so that's ₤1.10 or there abouts, oh that's too much how about 15,000kip........." and the process starts again, good fun but the shop owners get a bit frustrated with it taking so long.
Anyway were of to barter some more so will catch up with you soon.