Here we are in the second country out of seven that I'll be visiting over the remaining 4 and a bit months!
The whole journey down to Luang Prabang was pretty unforgettable. We started by jumping on a minibus from Pai which we were told would take 6 hours to get to the Laos side of the border (Chiang Kong). 8 and a half hours later we arrived at a guest house where we got about 3 hours sleep awoken to a woman shouting "Go to Laos"!
We were then driven to the border and got a longtail boat literally from one side of the Mekong river to the other, we were now in Laos. Getting the visa seemed to be pretty painless in the end although no one had a clue what was going on at any point. Next challenge - to find a slow boat to take us down the river. We thought there would be a choice of boats etc. but there wasn't, you just buy a ticket and get on the next boat that leaves, luckily we were in time for the last boat so left around 10am.
On the first day we were quite lucky as there were benches for the first half of the boat and plastic chairs in the second half. We went for the plastic chairs and just arranged them in a circle for our group of 5. We then merged with another group and ended up playing drinking games with 20 people in a massive circle at the back of the boat.
After about 7 hours on the boat we spent a night in a town called Pak Beng and it's only purpose seems to be to cater for people on the slow boats. We found somewhere to stay, got some food and called it an early night as we had to be on the boat at 9.30 the next day.
The boat on the second day seemed a lot smaller so it wasn't quite as good for socialising. Most people ended up ditching the benches and just ended up sitting/sleeping on the floor. By the end everyone was fed up of sitting on a hard surface but there were some lovely views and although I wouldn't do it again, I'd recommend it to anyone that hasn't done it before.
After about 8 hours on the boat the second day we were in Luang Prabang. We watched some footy and went out for a few drinks on the first night. One thing that caught everyone by surprise was the curfew. At 11.30, all bars kicked everyone out so the locals could be at home in time for the 12pm curfew.
We spent 2 more nights in LP but I had either eaten something I shouldn't have or wasn't agreeing with my malaria tablets so didn't eat much for the next day or two. We visited some amazing waterfalls where there were a couple of swings where you could jump in. The water was so clear and there was enough water to make you believe it could have been man made.
We had a relaxing last day until our minibus arrived to take us tubing in Vang Vieng!