Friday, June 24, 2011

The slow boat experience

Chiang mai and boat trips

After nearly 2 weeks I have sadly said good bye to Chiang Mai. I've really come to like this city and have enjoyed my time here greatly. But, I also feel ready to leave and take on something new. After securing my Indian visa I randomly caught a ride with a local woman who took pity on me and my numerous failures at catching a tuk tuk back to the city and offered me a ride on her moped. Sure, why not? I think as I agree to her generous offer. My life is becoming one random event after another it seems.
 I decide to join my fellow backpackers on the slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos. The process goes like this: you take a 5h bus to the thai border, get taken across the Mekong river to Laos and go through immigration. A few stamps, passport pictures, and dollars later with a shiny new visa in my passport I got driven, in a van blaring techno at 9 am no less, to yet another dock to wait for the boat. Several hours later my fellow backpackers and I precariously board the narrow planks onto the boat that will ferry us for the next 2 days into Laos. Yes, yes, the next 2 days. I did say it's a slow boat. In backpacker terms slow = cheap.
 It's kind of amusing to watch all the people board the boat. There are a few locals with children, but mostly bedraggled backpackers, with huge packs strapped to backs and in various states of disarray that only living out of a backpack for months can produce. For the next 2 days we slowly watch the Mekong river and lush country side slide by us on our slow journey. This country is some of the most beautiful that I've seen thus far, but after 2 +8 hour days it doesn't really matter what you look at it. The mind-numbing (and hinny-numbing) of doing nothing but sitting for a long period of time soon out weigh any and all scenery.  We stopped for a night in Pakbeng. A girl that became my slow boat buddy and I went for a walk to stretch our legs and were treated to the celebrity treatment by the locals. We were excitedly greeted by adults and children alike. We even had a baby shoved at us for a picture!
Another uneventful day on the boat and we finally arrived by dinner time! Now, I wonder where my guesthouse is???

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