Getting from Phayao to Luang Prabang was a journey of three days. We left from our guesthouse (HomHug) in Phayao, walked to the bus station with our bags and hopped on the bus to Chiang Khong. Chiang Khong is a border town far in the North of Thailand, just outside the Golden Triangle. It is a pretty quiet town that mainly ends up on tourist agendas because of the border crossing into Huay Xai, the Laotian town across the Mekong river, which is the endpoint for the 2 day slow boat to Laos (also the 8 hour speed-boat). If you are big cycling nerd, Chiang Kong is also noteworthy because Alan Bate who holds the record for fastest circumnavigation of the earth by bicycle has a hostel, pub and bicycling museum there. Liz and I aren’t big cycling nerds, so we hopped off the bus just before getting into town and made for the border.
We crossed into Laos on May 25th (Memorial Day in the US). It is a sobering place to celebrate those who died in the US armed forces. The US Secret War in Laos dropped more than 2 million tons of explosives – equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for the 9 year duration of that Secret War. The estimated remaining unexploded ordinance (UXO) still on/in the ground in the country is estimated at up to 80 million (mostly cluster bombs called bombies here, because they look like cute little toys). That UXO is responsible for almost daily deaths in Laos, most often farmers and children.
We spent the evening in Huay Xai at Friendship 2 Guesthouse, had dinner at Bar How of Larb and Phad Lao (strangely similar to Phad Thai) and had cat torture demonstrations provided by the little girls who doubled as waitstaff.
The next two days were spent floating down the Mekong on two different boats with a stop in Pakbeng for the night. We had a walnut (in the shell) sized beetle come plummeting out of the air and crash landing on our table during dinner, similar experience with another beetle of the same size just outside our guesthouse. I’m not completely sure, but I think these are female Rhinoceros Beetles. The males have large horns and are used in Northern Laos, Northern Thailand and Myanmar for beetle fights.
Our second day on the boat was a little quieter than the first and the boat was a little smaller so we were a little more cramped than the first day. Still a lovely way to see the countryside.
We arrived in Luang Prabang at the new slow boat terminal 7-10km North of the city at the new terminal meant to improve the boat docking facilities. Judging by the boat docks in town as compared to this one, I think the common theory of is more likely. That theory is that the move was simply so tourists would be forced to take tuk-tuks into town, and the only tuk-tuks allowed to pick up at the new terminal are the ones that take a government issued ticket. The heat and packs defeated any stubborn ideas we had of just hoofing it into town. We did manage to get in ahead of schedule and got situated in a great place with teak floors and ceilings, AC and lovely balconies for only 100,000 a night, that’s right 100,000. We’ll probably be in Luang Prabang for another day or three before heading south to Vang Vieng. Luang Prabang post and pictures to follow in a couple days.
|Huay Xai to Luang Prabang|
|15.05.25_Slow Boat to Luang Prabang|