Mekong Slow Boat Laos
Slow Boat down the Mekong, Pak Beng and a lost credit card!
This was our second trip down the Mekong, we enjoyed our last trip so much we decided to start our trip through Laos on the Nagi of Mekong again. As before the boat was fab, there were 9 other people on the trip so we tons of space and the food was simple, delicious Laos food cooked by the wife of the boats owner (and served by the kids).
The only main difference was this time, instead of crossing from Thailand to Laos in a tiny boat, we caught a bus over the new Thai-Laos Friendship bridge which while far more efficient was a lot longer and took a bit of the adventure out of the trip. I also think this new bridge is going to kill the small town of Chaing Khong which replies heavily on the backpackers heading over the border, now they will just head straight into Laos..
We left port at 10am and immediately one of the travellers I named the Jolly German whipped out a bottle of local Mekong whiskey and before you could blink had poured drinks all around…I think my lips were numb for the next hour…
The boat meanders slowly down the Mekong with Thailand on one side and Laos on the other for most of the first day and then turns inland leaving Thailand behind and travels through pristine jungle with tiny villages dotted along the river. There are no roads accessing the villages and all transport is by boat, the villagers living very simple subsistence lifestyles.
We stopped a a minority village and the Pak Ou caves which are about 25 km north of Luang Prabang and home to over 400 Buddha statues in two caves, one reached by a rater steep staircase.
Its stunning countryside however is changing quickly with roads and bridges being built and I am very pleased to have visited this area now before it changes too much and there are tourist buses flying past…
We stopped the night in Pak Beng a tiny riverside villages which caters to the passing river boats that travel the river. There really is not much there other than a few hotels, a few restaurants and stores and the market servicing the local area. Before dinner we went for a walk to look for the new ATM machine, which we found at the top of the village sitting all shiny up on the hill like some kind of temple. I loved the contrast of the modern ATM machines set against the backdrop of a village with houses made from bamboo and thatch, whose residents will probably never own an ATM card…
After loading up with KIP (local currency) it was dinner time and we knew exactly where we were going – to Sabaidee Restaurant where the sign boasts “my wife is a very good cook” and having eaten there before we can safely say she is.
It was then back to the hotel for an evening Beer Laos where I discovered I had lost my French credit / debit card. BUGGER! I did a frantic search up the road and at the restaurant with no luck … this meant I was going to have to cancel the card. The very thought of trying to get our French bank to send a new card to the other side of the world was enough to cause a migraine. ANYWAY as I was standing at the hotel contemplating just how I was going to cancel the card from a tiny village in a very remote part of a 3rd world country when the restaurant owner arrived to tell us a tourist had found my card and was in the restaurant. Apparently he had found the card in the street and had gone from restaurant to restaurant to look for the owner, he spoke to some British girls who had seen me looking for my card who told the owner of the restaurant who went to 3 hotels looking for us until he found us..and voila I had my card back.
Such nice people….
For Information on Travelling In Laos Read Our Laos Travel Guide
For Information on Travelling On A Mekong Slow Boat Read Our Mekong Slow Boat Travel Guide
Next Stop Luang Prabang