Left Chiang Mai on a mini bus, but only two of us in contrast to what i had been led to expect! A comfortable 6 hour drive to Chaing Khong a border town, where we stayed for the night. Had dinner at the guest house and met a lot of other people heading for Laos on my boat, and spent the night sampling Thai beer (Beer Chang) The next morning we left for the border which looks very unofficial but we managed to get visas and through. The time of the boat varied between 9 am and 11am depending on who you asked, but we left just after 12. The boat has hard woodden benches with no space, and the prepurchased cushion was a sound investment! With little to do, but 15 people we took to the local beer and it was very good! It numbed the pain and started a lot of games of cards and names on the head! We got in and all stayed at the same hotel, so all ate dinner together and carrid ont he party til 11pm when the electricity in Laos cuts off. This morning we were back on the boat for 9 hours and the beer wasnt flowing as easily so a bit of reading and watching the world go by. Arrived in Luang Probang tonight and 11 of us are at the same guesthouse, 3 pounds a night for a private double ensuite! can't complain! The mozzies are eating me alive so the repellent is a life saver allthough not working great!