Published: February 8th 2010February 5th 2010
I crossed over the river to the town of Huay Xai in Laos in the morning. The immigration checkpoint there was a mess! A huge mass of people was waiting to get the visa while another group was waiting to get their passports checked. Both groups were intermixing and I had to fight my way to the front to get my passport in. Then it took another hour before they got to my passport and gave me the visa. Then I had to wait to get it checked by immigration. By then I was already pretty tired.
Laos' official name is Lao PDR - or as many nickname it "Please Don't Rush". The country was part of Siam for a while then a French colony, it's influence which can be seen. It's the poorest country in southeast Asia and one of the poorest on the planet. Most Laotians make less than a dollar a day. It's also the most bombed country on the planet. During the Vietnam war, the Americans dumped 1.9 million tons of explosives on mainly the northeastern section of the country. Much of it is still unexploded and supposedly there's still one person and four cows blown
up every single day here.
I decided to get the slow boat to the city of Luang Prabang and be able to see some Mekong river scenery along the way. I boarded at around noon and within a half hour of leaving the engine broke down. The crew scrambled and started hammering pieces of wood into it and doing other weird stuff but it started eventually before breaking down twice more. Finally we got moving for good and for the next few hours I just read, met other travelers, slept, and enjoyed the view.
The boat stopped for the evening in a town called Pakbeng. It was really just a stopover point as there was nothing there apart from rooms and a couple of eateries. When I went to eat with a few others from the boat, the "waiter" listed all the things on the menu and then mentioned Marajuana and Opium were both available. He was also giving us whiskey for free. I made sure to make it an early night.
The following day everyone packed back onto the boat by nine that morning, it seemed way more crammed than the day before. I made it
to the back where some Lao lady told me there was room. It was like a separate compartment and I had plenty of room to do whatever. The scenery was again gorgeous and we arrived that evening in Luang Prabang.
There are more photos below