So we had entered Laos and our next mode of transportation was boat. We were heading on a 7 hour boat journey down the Mekong river to Pakbeng. Our final desitination is Luang Prabang but as it takes so long to travel down the river we have two stops offs and Pakbeng is the first. Just over the boarder we said goodbye to Henry, Ed and Bee who were staying in huts in the trees and doing a zip wire trek called the gibbon experience (voted one of the top 10 accommodation experiences in the world) and the rest of the group carried on.
We boarded the boat on a very narrow plank, luckily the captain took my backpack for me as I kept envisaging I would fall straight off and be in the river. The boat was a private boat only for us so it was huge for only 8 of us, there was also the captain, his wife and their daughter as well as another lady. There were table and chairs and a row of seats from a car (random) so it was really quite comfortable. The staff on the boat cooked us lunch which was a chicken stir fry, vegetable dish, rice and soup and then I read my book and slept. Because I didn't sleep well the previous night I must have slept for about 4 hours which passed the time well. Mel, Saskya and I had a game of trivial pursuit and then we arrived at the Pakbeng, the village where we were staying the night. You can tell we were on a party boat, haha not!
The scenery out of the boat was beautiful, from the little of Laos I had seen it was a lot greener than Thailand and a lot of people were on smaller boats on the river travelling from village to village or fishing. Because the smaller boats go so quickly the people on them where motorcycle helmets and look like the stig, it's surreal when you see them. There are buffalo by the side of the river and he fishermen fish catfish which can earn them a lot of money if they capture a big one. However the river does play tricks on you, there are a lot of rocks and sticks and at one point I was convinced I saw a crocodile but it was a large stick. Boooo.
We had to scramble up the hill (not easy in flip flops)with our bags and then up another hill to our accommodation. The village of Pakbeng is only there for the long boats stopping with tourists travelling down then Mekong river. There were little kids everywhere offering to carry your bags, hoping they would get tips and a lot of street sellers selling fizzy drinks, crisps, sandwiches and muffins. Bun told us that the town had not been there long and only had electricity for the last five years. I think that was why the restaurant we chose for dinner had candles on every table as three times during the meal the lights went out. The service in the restaurant was slow, they cook every dish individually so I think it was at least an hour before the first person received their dinner and the last one had theirs. We were entertained by a baby lizard falling on our table and running up and down, at one point it jumped on me and I freaked out a little.
It wasn't a crazy night so I went back to the hotel and read before having an early night. We were heading further down the river the next day to a village called Bad Lad Khamoune where we would be staying in a village overnight and meeting the villagers.