Slow Boat Trip to Pak Beng from Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang Travel Blog

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I left Luang Prabang for Pak Beng on that fateful day with a heavy heart. I really love Luang Prabang and wouldn't mind spending a few more days there. But then I was running out of time and I did have a deadline to catch.

My friend Jamie bought the slowboat ticket the day before. It costed about 100,000 kip. When he mentioned slow boat I was wondering to myself, how slow did he mean? We promised to meet at the junction near to the pier around 7.45am as the boat was scheduled to leave around 8am.

The pier was a place where all the slow boats moored by the river bank. The current of the river looked ever so fast and I was hoping that we would be travelling with it and not against. I spoke too soon. To go to Pak Beng we had to travel northwesterly - against the current! I kept asking Jamie the time we should be arriving in Pak Beng.

He assured me that our ETA was somewhere around 4 to 5pm. Okay I said to myself as I was half expecting this - I could live with 4 to 5pm.

We were not the only foreigners there, there were people from all over the world - France, Holland, Scotland, England, Denmark and the Netherland and of course the locals - all sitting on the stiff benches with daunting propect of a long journey awaited us. The benches looked like the one you see in the park only it is less glamorous looking and made of wooden planks nailed together. There were some locals who preferred to sit on the floor at the back. The idea was not so appealing until some hours later when my bum started to feel numb and I was sitting restlessly on the hard benches.

Some 2 to 3 hours later suddenly a local lady came out from the engine room (I think she worked in the boat too selling food) was shouting something the people the driver.

We saw smokes coming out from the engine room! yikes! sense of panic linger in the air. The boat stopped and made its way to the river bank. The driver and a few other men who worked on the boat went to the boat engine. Oh no! That can't be good. It mustve happened before I think and after what seemed like forever we were on the move again. We lost time so we were going to arrive late - PERFECT!

Jamie saw my anxious face I think, he bought me a cup of Lao coffee...ahhh nice. I felt more relax after that. So I took out my camera and my ipod and started taking photos of the people in the boat and the beautiful sceneries with ABBA songs playing in my ears. We were surrounded by towering mountains covered with trees. In some parts, we could see the locals used up some of the lands to grow crops.

Every turn and corner of the meandering river promised me a new interesting scenery to take. It was the only thing that helped me went through the long journey.

I learnt a few things from this journey:

1. Buffalo waters also come in pink - see for yourself

2. The Kiterunner also comes in Dutch language

3. Lao coffee really kicks

4. Do what the locals do

5. Ipod and camera are your bestfriends when travelling

6. Never trust China-made water heater

7. Always bring with you enough snacks and water when youre taking a slow boat

8. A good nice pillow would be very useful on the slow boat - Trust me, its the only thing I was wishing for then

9. Elephants are actually a mode of transportation in some part of the world - and not made for entertainment

We didnt arrive in Pak Beng until around 7pm.

It was beginning to get dark and we were told that Pak Beng would shut its generator at 10pm. So we quickly got off board and already there waiting for us were people offering place to stay. Its like advertisement on foot! My bum was already hurting and I felt my clothes were already sticking to my skin. The only thing I wanted to do then was take a very nice hot shower which I couldn't have from a China-made water heater shower that had only two mode - boiling hot and cold.

globalodyssey says:
slow means really really slow in laos and cambodia
express means somewhat slow
but great opportunity for photographs!
Posted on: Jul 20, 2009
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The slowboat got its reputation fr…
The slowboat got its reputation f…
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elephant is not for entertainment…
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photo by: oxangu2