…and now two days sat in a boat

but i’m not complaining, not one bit. the two day trip from chiang khong to luang phrabang via pat beng is just stunning. i didn;t realise that there was an over night stay half way down the river, i should have guessed it tho, 472km in one day is far too much…and they don’t call it a slow boat for nothing.

first off was getting up and out of bed in time for the boat of the river to the border control in loas. in the bleary-eyed haze that is my normal wake up i managed, after using it as an alarmclock, to leave my mobile under the pillow in the guest house. of course i realise this after i’ve made the border crossing and have set off in the boat. no luck in this story folks, the guest house can’t find my phone. i have a new one, no idea what the dialing code is but the number is 5547 950. use it wisely. oh, and i can’t receive txt either :s

anyway. the scenery was almost prehistoric; endless miles of unspoilt jungle covered mountains dotted occasionally by collections of huts or parties of fishermen along the bank. every few hours we would stop either to let people off to wander seemingly straight into wild jungle or to pick up children selling food, drinks and woven bracelets and cloth. it was a very uncomfortable trip tho. the benches, barely big enough for two people were over crowded and there was very little room to stand up and stretch legs.

when we finally got to pat beng there had been a problem, the guest house was over booked and there was nowhere in town for us to stay as a new hotel had opened (more places to stay surely) and they were having a party with many, many people invited from all over norther laos. ok. no problem.

as it turned out it wasn’t a problem at all. the owner of the guest house we’d all booked in at also had a restaurant with a stunning view over the river. in about 20 mins we’d moved tables and erected mozzie nets and turned his humble but comfortable dining area into our very own dorm. and a great night’s sleep i had too. to wake up fresh as a daisy at 6:30am as the sun is coming jup over the hillside (check the photos) is a superb start. may have to get into the habit more often (hmm, yeah, right)

the second day on the river was much the same as the first. got chatting to a fair few people, mostly french travellers visiting one of their former colonies and within 7 hours we were at the very modest town of luang phrabang.

the french influence in the place is everywhere. for starters the architecture is more like a sleepy village in the south of france than a town in south east asia. some of the food is very european, the coffee is great (they don’t use nescafe :)) and it’s altogether more modest than thailand. i prefer it wholeheartedly. i’ve never felt like someone’s trying to get money from me, something that always seems to be a point of conversation with people in thailand. it’s cleaner, more traditional and strangely more sophisticated than it’s more affluent neighbor. i like it here. i’m going to visit vang vieng and vientiane. from there i think (although it changes regularly) south to do ‘the loop’ by bike and then on to cambodia. but now as it’s getting late, i’m going to wander about the night market, pick up a few gifts and take a few more photos and have an easy night of it.

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