Pakbeng is a really small village (I would not call it town) located half way between Huay Xai
and Luang Prabang
, which if you are taking the slow boat, you will probably stop by here for a night. Quoted from Wikitravel "To call Pakbeng
sleepy is understatement. It's quiet to the point of being dead. Electricity goes out at 10.30pm, when the generator is shut down for the night", now you have a rough idea how it is like :) This was the first time/place in my life where I traveled to will have the electricity goes out at 10pm, time when I will finish my dinner at home, very interesting.
The guest house we stayed in was quite decent, 2 bedrooms and attached bathroom, couldn't ask for more considering the amount of dollars we paid, though there was a couple felt cheated and insisted the guesthouse owner to return some money, because there wasn't hotwater coming out from the shower head as promised. The guesthouse has a cafeteria next to it, where you can probably see the Mekong river flowing under the platform, well, if you have a torch light. We had our first candlelight dinner in Laos :) The famous sticky rice and springrolls. They tasted awesome especially after the long boat trip, the rain and the mud. Every thing was fine until I saw a giant grasshopper stopped next to my dinner plate......
There was nothing much to do after the dinner, and so we prepared to sleep before the total dark out.
Then there was a guy (we were on the same van from Chiang mai to Huai xai) came and told us to keep our valuables in somewhere safer because he heard from a friend that someone might sneak into the room at night and steal things... I wasn't sure if I was just being paranoid, but I woke up in the middle of the night, and felt someone inside my room, looking at us, then it was just too dark to see anything (even if I have a torch light I am not sure if I would use it though....) We talked about it the next morning, and all of us had the exact same feeling that someone entered our room at night LOL :D The morning in Pakbeng was very peaceful, and the view was really pretty. We strolled around the village and headed for the second half of the boat trip.
The boat was crowded yesterday and was very very crowded today.
It was smaller than the boat before, and other than those were in the boat yesterday, there were more locals joining us. Other than human inside the boat, they put lots of loads above the rooftop of the boat, which worried me because I could feel the boat sinking in. The boat trip was full with dramas. After 2 hours or so traveling, our boat came across some shallow water and it was stucked on rocks. The captain and assistants jumped down the boat into the river and tried to push the boat out from the rocks, but it was simply to heavy for 2 men to push. So some of the passengers had to jump into the river to join them pushing the boat and only then we get to continue our journey. Few hours later, the boat stopped by a village next to the Mekong. There was a lady holding a basket walking towards the boat.
I think she is going to build a house....
At first I thought she was just trying to sell some food or beer, which was fairly comman here. Food indeed, but very much alive. The food was actually a guinea pig looking animal, tied to a string. The girls screamed when the lady put it next to where they sat, and it got shocked and struggled around to escape (so did the girls). But the captain and the lady (most probably the locals) thought it was funny and just laughing at our ignorance.
Just when we were about 25km from Luang Prabang, rain started to pour down. We put down the curtains on the 2 sides of the boat to stop the rain from coming in. But it got really windy, and our boat started to sway. So the captain ordered us to pull up the curtains so the wind could pass thru the boat and stabilized it. It didn't help much, the boat was too overloaded and the captain had to stop the boat on the side of the river and wait for the rain to stop before continuing. It was already 6pm and we were supposed to reach Luang Prabang at 5. We were cold and hungry, and the sun was sinking down slowly behind the hills.. I started to wonder if the captain can ride the boat at night..