Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lao Trip 4.3 - Pak Beng to Luang Phrabang

Still don’t know the name of the Pak Beng guesthouse where I stayed overnight, but it appeared to be furthest up the hill and while a bit pricier than the other options most of the backpackers availed themselves of, I liked it cuz it was clean and quiet and fit all my needs, including dinner shortly upon arrival (after ab nam), beer following (while I wrote journal notes) and breakfast the next morning.

I think, though, when I come thru again, I’ll stay two nights at some place cheaper and explore the town a little. I did none of that, this go round.

Back on the boat (reminds me of Ken Kesey’s line: “You’re either on the bus or off the bus”), I had a seat this second and last day travelling down the Mekong river between Pak Beng and Luang Phrabang.

Here's som video shot by Philip Elmer-DeWitt in late 2012 or early 2013, showing many slowboat scenes that I think represent the typical slowboat trip very well: http://youtu.be/IQwydfdjcc8

The kids I hung out with on the boat were actually fun to be around and I didn’t have any discomfort being around a lot of Westerners in a foreign country, as I normally would, since I’m more of the “hang out with the locals” kinda guy.

The scenery continued to be spectacular and the beer still flowed freely (over-priced, of course). At one point, when the boat’s supply got low, we put in at a village along the river bank and the crew brought several more distinctive-yellow plastic cases of Beer Lao aboard. This averted what would have been – if not a riot – a big bummer for many of us.

We made Luang Phrabang at the end of the day and all 70 of us went our separate ways. In subsequent days, we would see each other on the streets of the city and would wave and otherwise acknowledge ourselves, but none of the Falang hailed me over to join them – like most Lao and Thai people do – so, I stayed politely aloof.

After our arrival, I got set-up at a guesthouse in the center of the old town. First order of business was an ab nam. Then I went to a Mekong River edge restaurant after having the good forward sense to dose myself with mosquito repellant (DEET an essential ingredient), and had dinner followed by some Beer Lao’s.

I would end up staying in this World Heritage Site for several days.

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