Marth 8th (Sunday) - Day 8 - Mekong and Pakbeng
Floating down the Mekong River. Best day so far (and we get two days of it!) We woke up early for Breakfast. What i got was a chicken bagette. Was odd but still nice. We walked down to the river where a huge number of boats where waiting. All with varying levels of luxury. We got on a mid range one. It was about 50 metres long and 3 metres wide. The bridge was at the front and the engine was at the stern. We set sail and were heading down river which I guess was a good thing as the boat was not that fast. The scenery was out of this world. Words and pictures will not do it justice. At one point I sat down and put the hopital records podcast on. It was the only one i had not heard (Stu - Can you save number 80 onwards for me?). Mixed with the scenery, the music, the heat, the sun it was complete bliss. 7 hours later we arrived in Pakbeng. This was the stop over for the night. All of a sudden 100's of 4 and 5 year olds jumped on the boat and before we knew it our luggage was gone. All they wanted was to carry our bags for a small amount of money. Glad they did as the banks were steep! The older they were the smaller the bag they had. Some of the smaller ones looked like back packs with legs. We had a wander around town. This was real Asia. Huts on stilts, dirt roads, markets fly of everything ever including flys, the whole works. They only had electicity from 6pm until 10pm. 4 hours a day. For dinner I had buffaloo steak, so much nicer than beef. After dinner we sat on the roof of our hotel wathing a field in the distance being burnt, they do this once they have harvested the crops. It causes so much pollution :(
March 9th (Monday) - Day 9 - Mekong
After being woken up at 3am by a rooster, I could not sleep. Every 5 seconds "cock-a-doo-dal-doo". I ordered a bacon and cheese bagette for breakfast but it turned out to be an onion bagette. My breath stank. At 7am all the boys where back ready to carry out bags but we did not lave until 8 so they had to hang around. We boarded the boat and off we went. It was more of the same as yesterday until 2:30 when we arrived at some caves. These were full of 1000's of buddha images. On the wall about 40 meters above us we could see where the high tide mark was for the 2008 floods. After viewing the caves we then played a traditional Lao game which involves the local whiskey. Its like spin the bottle and whoever gets picked had to do a shot. As only 5 of us where playing and we had 2 bottles we all got hammered. Sarah more so because she ended up with about 5 more shots than the rest of us. This made it very interesting getting off the boat at the other end.
We went to our rooms and passed out for a few hours. Had dinner and wondered round the market, before heading back and having a beer outside our hut.