Published: August 10th 2007August 7th 2007
This morning we spent most of our time changing money and sorting book exchanges. Our bus to Chiang Khong left at 12pm, so we had an early lunch and sat outside the hostel and waited.
The van was full (with my bag stuffed inbetween the driver and the traveller who'd been sat next to him) and the advertised air con was broken (I didn't mind the aircon - prefer open windows). I sat next to Aaron on one side and a friendly Irish medic on the other (who lived up to both by having a bottle of whisky at the bar in Chiang Khong. She didn't drink it all though, the stuff's just super cheap here). On the 5 hour bus journey I finished my book and admired the scenery. It's very green around here considering it's so hot - but then there is a great deal of rain so it must all balance out. Aaron developed a fascination with the long tractors that they use over here (they are unusual to look at - he managed to get a picture).
The hostel that we were at in Chiang Khong wasn't great - but we had no choice as
it was a package with the bus down and the boat trip. We went for a walk on arrival and ended up in a place called 'Easy Bar' - the owner and his family are lovely people, and he reccomended some places for us to stay when we arrived in Laos. He was very into his premiership football, as most of the bars around here seem to be. We watched 'Oceans 13' in the bar that night and relaxed with our some Chang (and maybe banana milkshakes too...) 8/8/07
This was another day of journeys! At 8:30am we loaded our bags onto a lorry-esque passenger carrier and got driven around the corner to the boat jetty. There was lots of faffing with our passports this whole time btw - the hostel had them as we'd paid them for our visas and they kept getting passed between people. We got onto a wobbly boat and road accross the Mekong for a few minutes and were in Laos!
We were met there by a man who had been given our passports who gave me 350USD to hand to the passport control once he'd given them in and we'd got them back. I didn't really want the responsibility seeing as it was his job, but he just vanished down the hill. We had a few forms to fill in, and had to hand them in a ffew more times, and finally got our 30 day visas (we were only expecting 15!)
The man from before who'd given me the dollars was waiting for us and managed to con us through our fear that he implanted of there being no accomodation left when we arrived at the halfway stop into paying at least double for a room. We didn't know this at the time, but all of us felt quite angry at him when we arrived (the hostel wasn't even nice! I've learnt my lesson)
When he finally permitted us to leave (we didn't know where to go!) we were told to get onto another wagon, and driven to a shop and waited again for our passports! This whole time we were feeling anxious because we'd been told that the boats fill up fast and we'd be wanting a good seat for the 6 hour + journey.
When we did get there the boat was quite full but we mamaged to find a seat. The driver then suddenly told everybody to change to the boat next door, so I clamboured over the side and got us another seat! Must have been stressful for anybody who didn't manage a seat on the second after having one of the first. We were waiting in our seats for an hour before the boat finally left just after 12pm.
The scenery was lovely, all green and hilly (will put pictures up when the computer stops giving me electric shocks when I try) and it was a nice boat...but the wooden seats don't half make your ass feel numb. I got up and walked about as much as I could, and shifted positions multiple times, but I was overjoyed to be able to walk on land and not get back into that seat!
When we did arrive we had the hostel dissapointment we went to an Indian restaurant and finally tried Beer Laos. It is really nice, and very cheap! After I'd finished my meal I heard a big thud and looked next to my empty plate and there was a huge beetle-esque bug lying in wait. It leaped towards Aaron, and I was at this point standing up in shock. Luckily we left soon after that! (I should say that the place was mostly outside and the bug wasn't because of poor hygiene standards) 9/8/07
We woke up at 5am as there was a persistant cockrel outside that would not be quiet. The room was in darkness as the generater only runs for 2 hours at night. This was not easy as our curtain wouldn't open, so we had to get dressed and pack up all of our stuff in the dark. We went for breakfast at 6:30am, and ended up with condensed milk in our coffee again!
We then walked down to get onto the boat as early as possible to get decent seats. This boat was nicer, and they sent two! Our seats were also padded and more comfortable, and we mamaged to save two for Eve and Emily (the Irish girls from the bus).
We arrived in Louang Prabang at 5pmish, and checked into a hostel alost straight away. It's cheap and clean and central and aside from the fact that the fan talks (this morning it said 'get some sleep' - Aaron heard it too!) we like it.
We then went to the atmospheric night craft market (it's all lit up - looks beautiful) and then had an early night (and got some more reading done) 10/8/07
Today we have taken our sweaty boat clothes to be washed. We then did a walking tour from our guidebook, and have looked around travel agents for tours that we will do whilst we're here.
It's a great town, everyone's really friendly and so far we're having a good time (the 50p big Beer Laos have certainly improved Aaron's mood!)