I’ve spent the last two days slowly floating down the Mekong River, after crossing into Laos from Chiang Kong, Thailand. To say that it’s been a welcome change of pace would be an understatement.
After the hectic nature of Bangkok, and the heavy rain in Chiang Mai (which essentially prevented any wandering around and exploring due to getting soaked in about 30 seconds), we drove 6 hours north to the Laos/Thailand border, and Chiang Kong. Our accommodation was…rustic. And freezing. It felt like camping, without the thrill of being in a tent. We also had paper-thin walls which led to midnight renditions of “Power of Love” on karaoke by the “lady man” hotel proprietor (our leader’s term, not mine). Sidenote – I’m kicking myself for not asking he/she/they where they got the lovely scarf they had on. Anyway, it was a long, sleepless, cold night.
Crossing into Laos was an adventure in itself. Hundreds of people crossing the river in long boats (and stumbling around in the mud with their luggage, which I did several times), and then queuing at immigration and customs with your fingers crossed that you filled your forms out correctly. Hurray, I did – fourth country/visa stamped into my passport on this journey!
We then hopped in the back of a pickup truck to make our way to our mode of transportation for the next two days – a slow boat.
Seven hours a day of sailing down the river, where we:
Stopped At a Village (and got MOBBED by children, including this gal who was keen on a group member’s shades)
Admired the Views
And drank Laos whiskey. Followed closely by regretting the Laos whiskey. Later followed by discovering how delicious and cheap Beer Lao is!
Speaking of delicious, food here, thus far, has been superior to Thailand. I had a great tofu cashew stir fry for dinner last night, followed by a ridiculous evening out at “the only bar in town” in Pak Beng. Which is true, because it’s a small village, one that only recently received full power (previous electricity was only on for a few hours in the evening). And, thankfully, they also had peanut butter and Nutella, so I packed a picnic for today’s boat ride. Heavenly.
It’s taking a bit of time to wrap my head around not only the language (and I just mastered a few key phrases in Thai) but also the currency – the Kip is in much larger denominations that I’m used to. Luckily we have ten days here, so hopefully I’ll have it sorted out just before crossing to Vietnam. Also hopefully sorted out by then – my continuing bank woes. I thought perhaps a dodgy ATM was to blame for my card not working anywhere in Laos, but it looks like it’s just taking a vacation and doesn’t want to come back to work yet.
Broke in Laos but still enjoying it – thumbs up!