Monday, November 7, 2011

Slow Boat - 2 of 2

The second day on the slow boat wasn't nearly as exciting. I was anxious to get to Luang Prabang and eat a good cooked meal rather than snack on packaged food all day on the boat. We got on a different boat that didn't have the cool wooden tables, but rather rows of seats similar to a bus. We made several stops to pick up locals and to check some problems with the boat. Our boat was slow compared to others, maybe because we were so loaded down with people. We were supposed to make it to Luang Prabang in 10 hours, so with each passing hour after 10, I was increasingly restless.

When dusk fell and we hadn't reached our destination yet, the captain of the boat pulled over and started making a fire on the beach. He didn't bother filling us in. We all got the message that we were spending the night on the boat! The river has many rocks that are hard to avoid in the night, so it made sense that we couldn't go on. But at the same time, we were so darn close to Luang Prabang. There were many angry backpackers on the boat. After half an hour of sitting, someone convinced the captain to cross the boat to the other side of the river where there was a road so we could get a ride into town instead of sleeping on the boat. What a relief that was. Instead of waiting with everyone for a bus to come (turns out they all had to pay a lot for that bus), we walked ahead and hitched a free ride with some Thai students into town (they were also on the boat and had a contact in Laos). It always pays to follow the locals.

What an adventure! A slow two-day boat ride down the river through wilderness and past remote villages was the prefect way to prepare for the slow pace of life in Luang Prabang.

- Julia

Here we go again. Boarding the slow boat in the early morning. Goodbye Pakbeng.
Scenes we saw out of our windows...
Made a stop at this village to pick up some locals.
The girls know we are making a stop and are ready to sell scarves to the tourists on board. 
There is competition to get to the tourists.
A boat full of white people stopping in their tiny village is probably pretty exciting. There was quite a crowd (of mostly children).
Locals boarding our already over-capacity boat. Not sure where they sat because there were no more seats.
Boat trouble. We saw it as an opportunity to hop off and stretch.
The air got chilly and the windows don't close, so we're layering t-shirts (forgot to bring warm clothes).
We passed Pak Ou Caves, not far from Luang Prabang.