I kept on the move in the hopes I could still make the slow boat down the Mekong before it departed around 11am.
Unfortunately, I crossed “The Khong” at the same time as two good-sized groups of Italian and English college-aged kids, so the visa process bogged down once we got on the other side of the river, on the Lao side in Huay Xai (pronounced “Hok-Say”). Luckily, however, I was one of the last five people to secure a seat on that day’s slowboat.
It almost looked like it wasn’t going to happen, though, as the last group of slowboaters were some Italian kids who didn’t have money in hand and had to hit the town’s Automatic Teller Machine. Even worse, their Mastercards didn’t work at that ATM, so the slowboat taxi driver had to run us over on the other side of the river to the town bank where – thank Buddha – they were successful in withdrawing kip. I kept my cool throughout, although it really did try my patience as I was sure I was going to miss the boat – literally. I could see the tuk-tuk taxi driver on the cell phone with guys at the boat, so it was actually not as stressful as it might have been. My coolness under pressure somewhat endeared me to the Italians and we were good friends throughout the two-day ride.
One of the slowboat ticket girls – who may have been married to the tuk-tuk driver or the daughter of the guesthouse owner – was absolutely gorgeous in a modest way – quite petite, dressed in Lao sim – and couldn’t have been much older than 22. When her father or father-in-law saw her talking with me, in Lao, for longer than deemed necessary, he whisked her away – in a jolly way – to a desk in front of the Bap Guesthouse. The family probably ran both the slowboat ticketing business and the guesthouse.
Ticket - http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TKhT6X4OwfY/UVOchXTzQpI/AAAAAAAAAbY/iiOntOpxw4Q/s640/IMG_0423.jpg
A NOTE about pictures: I did not shoot any photographs or video on this trip, but am posting pictures and video from others that are representative. I guess I got lazy, but the fill-in's are really good and the media is always credited with a link to the original.