Greetings from Laos! Let me tell you, getting here was one hell of a trip. We left Chiang Mai Friday morning. The minivan ride to the border town of Chiang Kong took about five hours. I’m sure the ride was a lovely one, but I was crammed in between two Dutch women and couldn’t see out the window. Upon arrival to Chiang Kong, we were too tired to try and find a guest house for the night. As luck (or Thai businessmen) would have it, we were dropped off at a guesthouse that books trips straight to Luang Prabang. We coughed up the 60ish bucks to take a speedboat down the Mekong River. That night, we hung around and had a few beers with some people at the guesthouse.
We woke up the next morning and after a quick breakfast were shuttled onto minivans to take us down to the ferry crossing into Laos. After sweating it out at immigration, the six of us signed up for the speedboat headed down to the river. Have you ever been on a speedboat? How about a speedboat that’s undoubtedly several decades older than you are? We boarded the boat, along with two Israelis, a Portuguese guy and a Japanese dude named “Shoe.” The ride wasn’t awful, especially when compared to the 12-hour, two-day slowboat trip that our friends took. We’re still waiting for them to arrive in Luang Prabang, mind you. The view from the boat was absolutely stunning–mountains jutting out of the water, tall grass coating the hills, and of course, the murky brown water of the Mekong. Edit out that last part and you have a gorgeous six hours. Oh yes, six hours crammed into a tiny speedboat traveling through Laos. Typical. Did I mention that our boat broke down twice? Small bits of fog and rain gave way to bright blue skies for most of the trip, which was great, except that I forgot to put on sunblock. You’d think that after a week of browning in Phuket, I’d be immune to burning. At least, that’s what I thought. Yep, and I was wrong. My beet-red face (awkward sunglasses-whiteness included) is a testament to that one. The trip was definitely one for the books, and despite my awful sunburn, I’m glad we decided to go that route.
After settling into our guesthouse last night, we headed down to the water for some grub. I went for a six-dollar steak and was not disappointed, though Jeanette’s barbecue chicken literally crumbled at the touch. Met up with our Portuguese friend from the boat, Vasco, and hung out until we were all too tired to do much more than collapse into our beds.
After a rough sleep last night (blame goes to the malaria pills for that one), we wandered around Luang Prabang’s main strip. There’s not a whole lot here, especially compared with the bigger cities in Asia, but it’s a good city to chill out in. We settled in at a cafe for some coffee and croissants (former French colony, what what!!) before finding a fantastic guest house for the next for days. Let’s just say that I don’t anticipate having to kick any cockroaches off my feet tonight. Yep, last night was one for the books.
Now we’re headed to another cafe for dinner, and will hopefully (eventually?) meet up with our slowboat friends later on tonight.