Published: June 26th 2012June 8th 2012
Laos. 8th June- 16th June.
So part of our excursion was a well anticipated trip to Laos. I had the image of tubing every day for a week in my mind and was very excited about this leg back in the UK. Having just left our friends at Chiang Mai (to be explained in a later blog - like I said I do things arse backwards) we embarked on the worst journey of my entire life to Laos. Maybe it was the fact that I'd been taking my very expensive and useless malaria tablets for a week, or maybe it was because I was missing my friends and being forced to now "travel", ironically, I don't know. What I do know is that it was a very hard trip.
We left for Chiang Rai via minibus. Did the usual of meeting some people, mostly English with a smattering of Dutch. Nobody seemed particularly interested in forming a friendship with us and we returned the compliment whole heartedly. One guy winced when I said we were Welsh and this resulted in an instant mutual vendetta throughout the journey.
The mini bus driver for some reason thought he had to get his 'swag on' and spent a portion of the journey flying over speedbumps while drinking Chiang. Edmunds asked me to be calm and to resist knocking him out, I tried my very best and managed to succeed for the most part, until we reached Chiang-Rai. This is a small place in between the border of Thailand and Laos where visas are sorted out. We were greeted by the most friendly guy who turned out to own most of Chiang Rai's backside. I daresay he'd sort you out if you crossed him, but he was also the perfect gentleman.
Anyway he lead us to a shack that had been pre booked in our trip deal we made with our travel agent (we were new travellers then and had to use such amenities...). I don't like being told where I'm staying without researching it first. Nevertheless, he made us climb a ladder and holed us into a pit of a room with a woolen blanket. I find it difficult enough at most times to deal with raw materials out here - unless they're sheets that are clearly clean you don't know who's sweat, spit or anything else on them! So seeing a woolen blanket on my bed sent me over the edge and I rounded up a disguntled Edmunds and declared we were staying in the adjoining guesthouse which was at least made of stone and not tree bark. It caused a few problems but we ended up with running water and clean sheets, paying 1000Baht for our luxuries. I used up their wifi on Spotify and Skype all night just to get the buggers back. Great success.
The next day after a hearty breakfast of eggs, eggs and more eggs to Edmund's sheer horror and my delight (I love it because I get double breakfast due to her dislike) we set off on the visa run, blah blah blah, through Chiang Rai and made our way on the slowest slow-boat ever to a little shanty town called Pak Beng (typo). The slow boat allowed us to see the breathtaking mountains that pattern the Laoatian border. It also allowed me to hone in on my voyeuristic tendancies and have a cheeky chuckle at the crusty old couple opposite who were clearly dying to get it on and were massaging eachother in a "Thai" fashion.
A family of people who lived in some hill - see I'm culturally aware - got on the boat. They had bundles of corn and seeds and dirty laundry. The grandmother of the family sat near me. She was the oldest and fittest woman I've ever seen and I saluted that, bearing in mind my great grandmother is 93 and far more mobile and energetic than I. However, the dirty mare soon ruined the illusion. She started spitting and "gozzing", as us Welsh say, every two minutes. I was sickened. I text my mother in distaste and she returned with her deepest sympathy. I flashed granny a look. She didn't get what I meant. Somebody was going to have to throw granny overboard - it was like a scene from "Throw Mama From the Train". I resisted. At this stage I was still reading my dirty books (50 shades baby) and they allowed a kind of escapism that even hocking granny's couldn't deter me from. Plus I felt I'd probably get a slap on the wrist from everybody back home. I managed the next few hours with the old git hocking loogers off the boat. This remains my most vile memory of the trip.
We rolled up to Pak Beng and this is where I will leave it for another blog....