I left Luang Prabang first thing in the morning to catch a speedboat. I could have caught the slow boat, which took 9 hrs to Pakbeng, and then another 9 hours to the Thai border, but it also cost half the price. I decided it wasnt worth it, at least not for the whole journey. And i'd heard a lot about the speedboats. My guidebook described them as 'surfboards with car engines on the back' and that they can be very dangerous. I decided I needed a little danger, i'd had it too easy so far. Time to turn up the heat. Iwas going to catch the speedboat to Pakbeng, and then the slowboat from there. This way I got to experience both, and also catch up on sleep on the boat the next day.
My main reason for going to Pakbeng was in a book i'd read by my favorite travel author Peter Moore. He said there was a hotel that he stayed in with attached resturant. The toilet in this resturnat was described in his guidebook as ' the best view from a toilet in the world'. Basically, the back of the loo wall had been removed and you could sit having a poo looking over the vally with the mekong running down the middle. Awsome.
The 3 hour speedboat ride was the most uncomfortable, scary and most pretty boat rides of my life. It was so bumpy, and the back of my seat was just a wooden slat. Ive been told these things can hold 8 people, thankfully this one only had 3. So we each got a row. Every now and again we would pass a big rock just sticking out of the water, and miss it by inches. I remember my boxer shorts were a slight tinge of brown after that. The whole thing was a once in a lifetime experience though. I put my headphones in and listened to Van Morrison with the biggest smile on my face ever! In that moment I was so happy, and impressed at what I was doing.
When I arrived at Pakbeng, the smile had gone. My arse was killing my, and I needed to stretch out. Pakbeng is simply 1 street of resturants and guesthouses. As I was walking to find somewhere to stay, there was something about the place I just didnt like at all. I couldnt put my finger on what it was. I got a room and went for a walk to find my toilet, to find that it no longer existed!! I was so gutted, as strange as it sounds, it was one of the things I was looking forward to seeing. I went back to my room for a sleep, and the owner of the guesthouse came round checking the rooms. Somehow he manged to open my room door, even though i'd locked it, without a key!. That sinking feeling of 'what have I done' started to settle in. I had no mobile phone signal, no internet, no phonebox. The power only came on from 5pm till 11pm by generator. Pakbeng had no mains power! I was more alone that I ever could be, there was no way out of this. I kept thinking I could try and go down to the Speedboat pier and pay someone an extortionate amount of money to get me out of there, but it was getting too late, as no-one would navigate the river at night. I had to put up with it.
I went to a resturant for some dinner, and found a really nice one with a great view of the sunset. It was cheap but worn out, and still didnt quite feel right. I sat there thinking to myself, I cant wait to get out of Laos. I had enjoyed my time here, but it just seemed to wear you out somehow, and life just seemed more hard work. I didnt get much sleep that night, and was down by the speedboat pier for 8am ready to leave.