The boat trip continues
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 71 of 77 › view all entries
Before leaving the hostel a number of us boat little cushions with teddy bears on; the hostel was plastered with photos of uncomfortable looking boats so it seemed a sensible idea to get some posterior padding.
We then took a minibus to the river and zipped over on a tiny boat to passport control. The process was fairly disorganised but relatively speedy.
First a queue to hand in your passport, visa forms and photo (I cut mine out of an old work pass) then they get processed in a random order. When the official holds up a picture of your face you return, hand him 26 dollars (other currencies get horrific exchange rates at the border) and that’s it, job done.
An old Japanese man had joined our group then proceeded to lose himself resulting in a slight delay as we played hunt-the-oriental-pensioner. We then took a minibus to the Mekong where the legendary slow-boat awaited.
The boat was big - probably seating one hundred or so people. The only other notable factor was the particularly comfortable seating, rendering my little teddy-bear cushion redundant.
The journey down the river was beautiful, but something of a tourist hell. A prime example being that when the boat passed a group of naked toddlers bathing in the river about half the people on board rushed to the side of the boat, whopped out oversized cameras and started clicking and videoing away as if their lives depended upon it. Sadly most were so into their photos that they didn’t even return the waves to the kids.
Funny how its okay to photo naked minors in Asia, but no one would dream of it if they were on holiday in Wales. I blame all those old national geographic films…
At the end of the first day we arrived at xxx, a town whose sole purpose is to provide a half-way stop on the two day boat ride to/from Luang Prabang. There are a lot of guesthouses and restaurants, one disco, no police and consequently a lot of weed an opium being peddled. There’s a dearth of accomodation so best to just book it when you arrive.
Me and pinko got one room with two beds to save money, grabbed some food then went out on the beers with hippie-chick, some Scots and two Frauelins (not the “I‘m so cool I think I‘m gonna have to touch myself… oh, yeah. Waaay coooool…” ones).
At some stage we separated and I ended up drinking and chatting with the ginger frauelin. It was gently entertaining until at some point the discussion dropped onto the topic of some hetrosexual stuff I’d done and she said that she’d initially thought that me and Pinko were lovers, due to sharing a room and the clothing. T least she thought I was the man though.
This put more of a strain on me. Pinko was a nice enough chap, but not someone I would choose to be friends with as there just wasn’t any real banter. With the couple thing on top the prospect of us becoming travel chums for a while was starting to worry me slightly…
The next night we arrived at Luang Probing - with me and Pinko both going to Spicy Laos Hostel. It wasn’t as nice as the Thai equivalent - mainly due to the thirteen family members that lived there monopolising the TV room, generally being in the way, sat around rather than fixing the showers, fans and internet - all of which worked sporadically, badly or not at all.
The social side was variable too - one night there was a nice bunch of people that I went for food at the night market with, the next few days a big group of oy-oy-saveloy types arrived that were a bit annoying and not as funny as they seemed to think they were.
It didn’t help that I’d received a relatively traumatic e-mail that required a bit of serious thinking about - there’s a good chance this coloured my views on the place to some degree.
I love the smell of Monks in the morning