11th June 2009
Our first stop in Laos was the border crossing town of Huay Xai. We got here on a very uncomfortable night minibus from Pai. It was a small place but we thought it would be worth an overnight to experience our first night in Laos and also because we didn't need to be in Luang Prabang until Saturday when Sam's parents had booked us some nice accommodation for his birthday.
There wasn't a whole lot to the town but we stayed at a nice guesthouse (B.A.P) for 300 baht a night and the nice old lady who was running it filled us in on the do's and dont's of Laos such as no (PDA's) public displays of affection. We walked to a market and in the morning got up early and went for a run. Sammy ran up a huge set of stairs to a big temple where there were some Monks doing the early morning duties of cleaning around the temple. I couldn't go up because of my lack of covering up clothes but I'm sure there'll be many other temple opportunities along our journey.
After our run we had some breakfast and got in a tuk tuk headed for the slow boat which would take us to Luang Prabang. The slow boat had come highly recommended to us by many people during our travels and at first it was hard to understand why. The seats were these ridiculously small and straight seats and the boat was quite overcrowded causing people to spill out into the centre aisle. Fortunately the scenery along the 7hr journey made up for the discomfort and we were indulgent enough to fork out 40 baht for a pillow to sit on which made the seats slightly more comfortable. The Mekong is such a strange river with sandy banks and islands in parts and some very strange whirlpools which you could apparently easily be sucked into if you fell overboard. We landed on shore at several small villages so the village children could come onto the boat and sell food and drinks to everyone on board. We arrived at the small town of Pakbeng at about 6pm after 7 hrs on the boat and were in surprisingly good spirits!