(Day 276 to 278)
24.08.2010 - 26.08.2010 37 °C
From Chiang Rai, we hopped onto a small local bus that would take us to the border town of Chiang Khong in two hours for the small fee of 65 Baht each. Once we got there we took a quick Tuk Tuk to the Thai border crossing, followed by a boat that would take us across the river and see us standing proudly on Lao soil.
After paying for our visa (U$30) and buying our Slowboat ticket, we found our way to our guesthouse which was conveniently situated on the river, right by the Slowboat Pier for the next morning’s trip. Getting to the boat early in the morning is vital to secure a good seat near the front, so this guesthouse was ideal for us.
Journey down the Mekong
This would be a 2 day journey to Luang Phabang, fitted with bum-numbing wooden benches most probably used in torture chambers during the war! After the fist day on the boat, we’d reached Pakbeng, a ramshackle old town on the banks which seems to cater mainly for the tourists stopping over. This is unavoidable as boats don’t operate at night. We were expecting cold water and sporadic electricity, and braced ourselves for a bad night but although the accommodation was basic, the stop was perfectly fine (with elect and hot water!).
The boat trip was pleasant and the scenery pretty and peaceful, with small villages along the way and the greenest fields & hills we’ve seen so far which were shrouded with low lying clouds. This is the advantage of travelling during the rainy season but it does mean a daily dose of rain, which we have had without fail so far. Although enjoyable, this trip was very touristy and mainly because of this, would never compare to the amazing slowboat trip we had done over 3 days up the Amazon just a few months ago. Nevertheless, we discovered the Mekong River and that was special in itself.
The Mekong is the 7th longest river in Asia, starting in the Tibetan Plateau, the river runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
After another 8hr day on the boat on Day 2, we finally arrived in the laidback town of Luang Phabang. This time our boat had been upgraded to a ‘Tourist Boat’ with comfy seats and a western toilet