The start from Pai was an early one, but a lot more comfortable than on the way up. We paid for a minibus to take us to Chiang Khong, the border crossing into Laos and then a slow boat on the other side to Pak Beng. The mini bus journey was good and we met two Swedes called Nick and Caroline, talking to them passed our time as all in all we were travelling for 9 hours. The night in Chiang Khong was pretty uneventful, had a few drinks and a nice meal with Nick and Caroline.
The next morning we headed to the boarder crossing, got a small canoe like boat across the river that took literally 2 minutes and then had the manic task of getting our visa's. The boarder crossing was really busy and there didn't seem to be any organisation so it took us a while, but eventually we got our passports back and we were allowed to get on the slow boat to Pak Beng. That was after we had a pep talk on how bad the slow boat would be, with no food, smelly toilets, overcrowded boats and a 10 hour journey to Pak Beng. The man was trying to get people on the speed boat instead and pay and extra 15 quid each, we didn't fall for it and neither did Nick or Caroline, so we bought our food supplies for the day and headed for the jetty.
The boat trip was really nice and relaxing, the boat wasn't over crowded, the toilet was fine, there was food you could buy and it only took 6 hours!!!! The views were amazing and it was relatively warm. We were really glad we went for the slower option because at least we could take in the scenery and talk to each other rather than sitting on a speed boat for 7 hours. Although, we did have two really annoying Germans sat behind us who kept pushing our bench forward so they could have more room, they kept putting their bags underneath my seat so i had no room for my feet, they were really inconsiderate and i took a dislike to them straight away, so we found it highly amusing when a little puppy decided to have a s*** on their seats as they had decided to lay out on the ground. But being typical Germans they just stood their swearing and complaining and not clearing it up. In the end Nick got some tissue and cleaned it up for them. They then decided that they would give their cushions a dust down over the side of the boat and accidentally threw their Laos guide book into the river, we were both pissing ourselves!!!
When we arrived in Pak Beng it was dark and it was really manic. The local children were pushing their way onto the boat to look for food, used cans and bottles. Everyone was trying to look for their bags and the local men were taking peoples bags from the boat. I saw Matthew's bag on someone's back so he pushed his way off the boat to take it back off him. We couldn't find my bag and i was having a bit of a panic as obviously its got all my worldy possessions in on this trip. Matthew eventually found it on a mans back so i took it off him and we proceeded up the hill to look for somewhere to stay. We found somewhere dirt cheap, but it had a freezing cold shower and the electricity went off in Pak Beng at 10.30 on the dot. We had a quick wash and went for a really nice meal, Matthew and i tried the local buffalo dish and it was lovely. Obviously we had an early night as there was no power.
Another early start the next morning for a long day on the boat to Luang Prabang.