inconsistent news from southeast asia

Laos-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - March 2006  |  by Matthew Audley

LAOS

Well, last i updated we were sort of about to leave for laos, and now...here we are. Day 38 (Octo 21) was the day we left. Up at seven to head down to for a crappy breakfast at our GH which, come to think of it, i never paid for - i think they made enough off us anyway with paying for them to arrange visas (probably unecessarily) and the slowboat. All told, it was almost 5000B between us.

Onwards - we borded a pickup truck and rode in the back for a few minutes off to the checkpoint on the thai side of the mekong. Rubber stamp.

From there, it was a tiny little boat over to the REAL border on the other side of the river.

crossing the mekhong. note the huge canadian flag.

crossing the mekhong. note the huge canadian flag.

The border on the other side was also another rubber stamp affair, albeit with a fee attached to it. And i exchanged some money, making me a MILLIONAAAIRE. Yes, the kip is utterly worthless, thanks to a series of devaulations by the lao governmenmt. Introducing the NEW KIP!! Now worth 300% less!

The slowboat itself was interesting. It wasn't a very large boat - maybe 10-15 feet across, with rows and rows of hard wooden benches with really upright backs. Maybe 50-60 peopleon board. There was tons of nice scenery and some nice people to talk to and it went on for seven hours or so, most of it spent standing because the benches were so brutal. The long hours of travelling seem to go by faster nowdays, though. I think i must be getting used to it.

We arrived in Pakbeng about the time the sun was setting (5:30?) and i rushed off to make sure we had a GH, as rumours have the rooms filling up fast when boats come into little tiny towns like this one. It was totally uncessary, of course, but at least we didn't reserve a 300B room like they said we should. The room we did find was 80B, another cheapeast room yet record! And rat infested with paper thin walls, but it's only one night. I slept fine.

Pakbeng is a tiny tiny little town, but managed to quickly present a culture unique from that we've seen in Thailand. For one thing, we were offered marijuana before we even got off the boat and several times after - believe it or not, no one ever offered to sell me drugs in thailand (i'm as shocked as you are.)

The power was off until 6:00, when generators were switched on. Promptly, a huge loud party with live musics was switched on too. i thought it was just friday night, but it turns out there was a wedding. These people know how to party, regardless.

Dinner was a curry (yellow curry here) - very tasty, and a couple beer lao. Beer Lao is often touted as the best in SE Asia, and it just may be. It's not allowed in Thailand, as no one would buy any thai beer. Anyway, i'll need to do further research on this beer thing.

Day 39 was day two of slow boating. Up painfully early and rushing to get breakfast and a packed lunch and get on the boat only to sit around for an hour. Predictable but annoying. This boat has cushions, but they make very little difference in the long run.

It's a very long day, with more of the same gorgeous scenery. Also, i'm lead to the conclusion that i prefer not to be travelling with a bunch of other tourists. We've been spoiled by our other travels thus far. Did manage to trade off some books, though. Yay! I'm going through books way too fast.

dusk on the mekong, day 2.

dusk on the mekong, day 2.

We arrived in Luang Prabang at around 5(?) and went straight for the cheapest place listed in LP. It's hard to find cheap accomodations in this city. As it turned out, we eventually found a really cheap place (25,000kip). It's dingy, yes, but we spend so little time in there anyway and it's SO cheap. I'm not sure what room is bad enough for us not to rent at this point.

© Matthew Audley, 2005
You are here : Overview Asia Laos Laos-Travelogue
The trip
 
Description:
Leaving for bangkok on Sept. 12. Where we go from there is anyone's guess. Hoping to see Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Be back in six months or so if everything goes well. There really isn't much of a route planned - we'll see what happens.
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Mar 19, 2006
Travelled countries: Thailand
Canada
Laos
Vietnam
Cambodia
Southeastern Asia
Malaysia
The Author
 
Matthew Audley is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 13 years.
Picture of author