Day 50-51 in the world of Sam and Dani: We arrived in Chiang Khong at 2am so obviously went straight to bed. In the morning we got a tuk tuk to the pier to get a boat across to Huay Xai to get the slow boat. You can get packages that include transport from Chiang Mai, accommodation and the slow boat but we decided to do it ourselves and actually got it cheaper- 450baht for the bus and accommodation to Chaing Khong and then the slow boat ticket which was 1000baht rather than the packages that were over 2000. At the river we went through immigration and were surprised that we had to pay 1000baht (500 per day) for being over the 30days you're allowed in Thailand for without a visa, very annoying considering we left Koh Phangan the day after the full moon so that we could get out of the country on time and be able to do our trek!
Anyways, we paid 40baht to get across the river where we got our Laos visa before heading to the slow boat. Luckily, we got their early so got decent seats, people arriving late weren't so fortunate and had to sit on the wooden floor (ha ha). We were on the boat for 6 hours the first day, staying in Pakbeng overnight, then travelling for a further 9 hours the second day. The boat stops off at random banks along the river where local children swarm on and try and sell you things, this is where we felt obliged to drink beer, you know to help the locals out =) When we arrived in Pakbeng we got our accommodation for the night sorted then went out for tea. Power in Pakbeng starts at 6.30pm and goes off at 10.30pm, after that time everything is in darkness or if you're lucky some bars have generators. Either way Laos law requires you to be in guesthouses between 11.30 and 12.00 so you don't really have an option of staying out late. You can imagine how warm rooms must be without fans but just incase, VERY hot and muggy! Showering the following morning in the dark was also an experience.
Before getting on the slow boat we heard lots of stories about how uncomfortable the boat is and how it isn't very pleasant. Now, we don't know whether we were just lucky or if other people have exaggerated it, but our trip was really enjoyable. We met a group from England (3 Mancs, 2 from Yorkshire and 1 from the Lake District) so that helped time pass quickly getting to know them etc, but we had a good journey. The boat is also used as a carrier service transporting things like food and wood to larger objects like bikes and other boats that were actually put on the roof! Locals boarding also brought a variety of things including live birds, fish and naked children =S We were a lil confused when we pulled up at a random rock by a large bank and a lady got out, just abandoned on the rock with two big bags!
When we arrived in Luang Prabang we were met by lots of locals trying to sell us rooms in their guest houses. We decided to go with one guy who gave us a reasonable rate and said it was 3 minutes walk, he lied! After walking about 5 we asked how far and he said 7km around a mountain… na! Unfortunately, Laos people have the same concept of time as Thai's. We ended up paying slightly more for rooms but for the convenience we didn't mind.