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October 01, 2003 : Lao adventures, part 1

Lao adventures part one

We go from Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos, but run into problems right away... hard ones.
The plan is to go by slowboat from Huay Xai to Pak Beng, sleep there, then keep on going to Luang Prabang. We are 30 tourists that cross the river to get from Chiang Khong, where most of us spent the night on the Thai side, to Laos that morning. Get another stamp in the passport, exchange some money - personally I only exchange 1000 baht - and get 250 000 kip back. Some people exchange a lot of dollars at once... you can see the disbelief in their eyes as they get a massive pile of cash back - one dollar is worth 10 000 kip, and here they only give us 5 000 kip bills. The biggest they have is worth 20 000 kip, but you usually end up with a lot of 5 000 ones, since the 10 000 and 20 000 are new. You feel rich, but not for a long time, the pile usually don't survive very long.
We get a minibus ride for a few minutes down the river, and there we throw our bags on the roof of a slowboat and then enter it. I get there late, so I end up in the back, about 1 metre from the engine. It's very noisy, so it's good thing I have my earplugs with me. We start going down the river, and you soon understand the concept of slowboat, and it's counterpart - the speedboat. You hear a noise (and remember that I'm sitting by the engine with earplugs) that rises and suddenly there is a small boat painted in red next to yours. When it flies by you, the noise is extremly high, since the exhaust is in the back of the boat. They are fast, but also considered dangerous - if you run into something in that speed, you are in a lot of trouble....

After about an hour we come to an area with a lot of rocks in the water. The boat slows down to navigate through it. We are almost out of it when the captain goes back to full speed - and you hear and feel how we go right on a big rock, from the middle of the boat and all the way back, removing our propeller. The staff on the boat throws off their clothes and use buckets to keep the waterlevel in the boat below the floor. A speedboat helps us by pulling us to the side of the river, and then continues north to get help for us. After about half an hour, a boat with four military guys with machineguns shows up, and after a bit of yelling between them and the crew on the slowboat, we are told to jump aboard the other boat. After three trips, all of us are a bit down the river, on a small beach along the Mekong. We have no food or water, but at least four people had brought their guitars... *sigh*

We sit there and wait, while the military guys walks around us, wondering if they are there to protect us or to make sure we don't do something illegal. After a while we stop worrying though, because then one of them borrows a guitar and starts playing on it.

After about three hours another boat finally shows up, and we can continue our journey south. The problem is that it is forbidden to travel on the Mekong river when it's dark, so we can't reach the planned destination for the day. We have to stop in a small village and spend the night there. We get off the boat and walk up to the village. They actually have two guesthouses, but the room I share with Frank has not been used for quite some time, the smell in there is proof enough of that. The bed is full of dirt and there is a dogbone under it...
We walk around the village for a while, with most people staring and laughing at us. I doubt that they get a lot of travellers to their village. They actually do have a restaurant though, with a menu in english, so it's not so bad. I sit with a bunch of english people, playing cards for about 1.5 hours until we get our food - probarbly not every day they get 30 people at the same time in that place. The food is decent though, I ordered rice with some meat to it and it's not so bad. When we have eaten we buy some cookies and fruit to have the next day and head back to the guesthouse. When the others has showered I try to do the same. Then they cut the power, so I don't see a thing. After a few minutes I realise it's not coming back, so without any clothes on, I try to find the way back to the room where I have my flashlight. Good thing our room was close to the bathroom...

The next morning I wake up early to get a shower, and even though I slept in my silk sleeping sheet, with the sleeping bag under it, I have odd bites on my thighs. Later I will realise that they come from bedbugs.
We pack our bags and get back to the boat again, leaving at 08.00. We make a short stop in Pak Beng to change to a faster boat and buy some food, and the other swedes get off to spend the night here. The rest of us continue our journey south, towards Luang Prabang. When we get closer, the mountaintops start to rise, and we get to see the sun go down between the mountains - it's very beautiful!

I have decided for a place to stay when we get to Luang Prabang, so I try to find it when I get off the boat. I have to use the flashlight to be able to see the map though, and I realise that we arrived with just a few minutes to spare... good thing we didn't end up in another small village.
I find the place and get a room there, and go out for dinner. When I've eaten, I run into the english guys again - they are trying to pay for their dinner, 8 people with on one bill. Takes them half an hour to work it all out, hard to count in your head when the numbers are so high... quite hilarious to watch them :)
Luang Prabang is a very beautiful city, and very relaxed. Almost everything closes at 22.00. We wanted a beer though, so six of us try to explain the concept of a map to a tuktuk driver. Not very succesful, the only thing he understood of what we said was Beer Lao, so he took us to the local nightclub, which is an empty karaokebar that charges money for us to enter. No good. We speak to the staff at a hotel beside it, and they manage to explain to our driver where we want to go. According to Lonely Planet this was the place where backpackers end up. Well, we did anyway, it was four more people there as well. Luang Prabang is not a good place for the people that wants to party, that's for sure :)
Since our driver decided to wait for us in the bar, we just have a beer and then makes him drive us back home - which is not very long, we ended up about two blocks from where we started...

I sleep well after a long day, and I spend the next day just walking around town and talking to people, until I run into the other swedes that has arrived from Pak Beng. The day after I have breakfast at the Scandinavian Bakery, which is the reason for my choice of guesthouse, it's about 5 metres away :)
I have a Scandinavian special, which is a croissant (!) with cheese and ham and vegetables, a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice. It is damn good. I just can't eat noodles for breakfast...
The others show up while I sit there, and me and Frank walks to the market to find me some flip-flops. He actually finds a pair for me, which is about time, I've been searching since I arrived in Bangkok. After we walked around for a while we run into the other guys again, and we tell them we are going to go to one of the waterfalls not too far away. They decide to join us, so we pack our stuff and get on a tuktuk for about 40 minutes.
It's well worth the money though, the waterfall is very beautiful.

The rest of the time in Luang Prabang I don't do very much except relax - it's great place for that.

Posted in: Laos , Travel by mdk @ 15:14, October 1, 2003 | TrackBack



Det var ett tag sedan du var på ett internetcafé eller? :-)

Skönt att höra från dig, hoppas allt är bra. Här är allt som vanligt. Enda nyheten är väl att vi äntligen har uppdaterat vår hemsida.

Ser fram emot nya berättelser och bilder!

Kram syrran

Posted by: Lotta @ 16:27, November 3, 2003

Hehe, what a nice and relaxing boat trip. It's always funny to read about someones frustration hehe

Keep up the good work. More, more, moooooore!!! :)

By the way...did you by any chance have the opportunity to fire off some kalashnikov rounds?? Please say yes! :D

Posted by: JoA @ 20:55, November 3, 2003

Whoaaa! Sexigt snyggt det är där nere. De där vattenfallen ser helt jävla sagolika ut!

Posted by: Jörgen @ 23:49, November 3, 2003


Nja, det var inte sa lange sen, men jag har legat en manad efter med dagboken, sa jag har inte haft nagot att skriva :)
Dessutom har jag akt runt med folk som inte internetar, sa jag har liksom GJORT saker om dagarna istallet, mycket opraktiskt.

Du borde prova websidan i 800x600, funkar inte overdrivet bra :o)

Yeah, resten av Laos kommer om ett par dar, har skrivit halften redan... forsoker komma ikapp i dagboken ocksa, sa jag har inte gjort ett jakla dugg har i Nha trang, forutom att lasa och skriva... inte sa mycket man kan gora heller iofs, forutom att ligga pa stranden, och jag har ackliga bett pa benen som varar sig o sa, inte sugen pa att bada da anda.

Menmen, dags att aka till Saigon i nagra dagar, sen blir det Kambodja. Har varmt upp genom att lasa Killing fields och First they killed my father... ska bli intressant att se allt fran deras fruktansvarda historia.

Ha det!

Posted by: Martin @ 12:04, November 4, 2003


It was actually quite fun, definatly the most interesting part of this journey so far... Laos in general was very interesting to travel in, we heard a lot of stories of people getting robbed and so on =)

Well, no, unfortunatly not... but I will get a chance to do that soon, that's gonna be cool :)

So... you going to Thailand soon? :)
In three weeks or so I'm going to be on the beaches in Thailand (well, I think so anyway) for a couple of weeks, I'm looking forward to that after all the rush here in Vietnam... it's a lovely country, but damn, there is a lot of annoying people here...


Posted by: Martin @ 10:05, November 5, 2003


Jaa, det ar ju ratt fint, det maste man saga :)

Saaa, styr upp lite cash och ak ut och res med dig, lat-apa! Berlin ar inget mot Saigon... ;)

Kom till Saigon imorse, sa ar ratt seg idag. Fan vad trist det ar med nattbussar, jag kan verkligen inte sova...

mjaja... ha det :)

Posted by: Martin @ 10:13, November 5, 2003

hej,sitter här i höstmörkret och läser om hur du badar och har gott .Du ska veta att jag ofta går in och läser vad du skriver.Dina bilder är härliga. Ha det så bra.Gun S

Posted by: gun sott @ 16:50, November 14, 2003


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