We were picked up at 8 o’clock in the morning and left to the border between Thailand and Laos. Switzerland doesn’t need a visa so we only had to pay 30$ for the girl from Spain 🙂 As we arrived we were told that we need a photo for the visa what we of course didn’t have. No problem, for 40 bath hey made a copy of Ari’s passport and that’s it.
On the other side of the border we waited until everyone has arrived. 2 hours later we were picked up by a big bus to go down to the river. There we had to give our passports so they assigned everyone to a boat. There were two slow boats with 90 seats each and we were about 200 people waiting there. One boat was with seat assignments in advance the other one, the one we got, was free to choose. Let’s go with the first because he imagination of 8 hours not having a seat isn’t very nice! Before boarding we were also able to book a room for the night in Pakpeng. We thought they sell them for crazy prices as everyone has to sleep there but 100000 kip (12€) for a double room is fine.
We were fast and got a nice double seat in the middle of the boat. The people entered and the boat got full and there were more people coming. In the back was the toilet, behind the engine of the boat and behind this there were some more seats and a place used as a smoking lounge followed by the kitchen of the crew which lives on this boat. So the 10 people without a proper seat found their place back there. Actually it isn’t hat bad. Only he smell of diesel and the noise of the engine is hard to have next to you during 8 hours.
He first day went by really fast. We enjoy the outstanding landscape all along the river and had some beers and started talking with some neighbors. We just arrived before sunset in Pakpeng and went for our hotel. It was fine and the restaurant had an amazing view just over the river to the sun going down behind the mountains! The guy working as waiter and part of the owners family explained us that there was party later the evening just in front down the restaurant but we were to tired and decided to go to bed a little earlier.
He boat left at 9 o’clock in the morning the next day and we were told to be early to get a good seat so we arrived at the boat one hour early and had a good choice of seats. Again in the middle of the boat.
As we saw the first day that they sell beer on the boat we didn’t buy some at the supermarket and only got some food. We started a little earlier with the beer then the other day and started talking and playing cards with some other people sitting around us. This was when we met Florian, Julia, Laurence, Victor, Montserrat, Azahara and David and to be turned out the beginning of a great travel friendship!
When we arrived at Luang Prabang we left with our new friends to the city center. Ari and I had already booked a hotel and the other guys followed the recommendation of the tuk tuk driver. We decided to go for dinner all together and I found a place to meet. Was not the best idea. Ari and I didn’t find this bar, the local people didn’t know the Opera House (that’s the bar) and we didn’t meet again this day. But the next day we will!
Conclusion: The slow boat trip to Luang Prabang isn’t scary at all and it was real good fun!