Friday, 26 April 2013

Slow Boat II - to Luang Prabang

So we awoke at 6.45am, went to breakfast at 7.30 and then walked down to the pier for 8.30 to grab our seats - good job we did as there were less seats on this boat because it had tables. A few people had to sit on the floor or in the kitchen up the back!

We sat at a table and a couple from Essex sat next to us who were great fun. So we spent the entire 9 hour boat journey talking to them, drinking Laos Beer, eating too much and watching the scenery.

We arrived at the 'Pier' at 5pm, but this pier was in the middle of nowhere! So there was a lot of speculation, is it Luang Prabang, are we meant to get off here or stay on, what's going on?! All the Laos people were telling us it was Luang Prabang and to get off but all of us, with our trusty Lonely Planets, knew it wasn't LP so we all thought it was some big scam. Hence all of us protested and didn't want to get off the boat, as apparently they couldn't go to LP pier as the water was too low, so we'd have to pay for tuk tuks into town.

The captain wouldn't budge, even though some people on the boat phoned tour companies and got them to speak in Laos to them. Eventually some people got off and told us the same story, but still no-one knew what to believe. So we all stayed put, however it was getting incredibly hot, we were wasting time and just wanted to get to accommodation. It was't until two people who'd got off, rang their friend still on the boat, that everyone then decided to get off - turns out the Laos people had been right and it was the new pier, because the water was too low to land at the LP slow boat pier - woops!! Laos-1, tourists-0!!

During this time I'd got chatting to two girls from Bedfordshire Lucy and Robyn, who were heading to the same place I'd heard of for accommodation so we all decided - Vincent, Lucy, Robyn, and a Canadian guy called Steve - to head there together. So we traipsed off the boat, having to get our own luggage out of the hold, climb up a massive sandy hill and got tickets for the tuk tuks - 20,000 kip each - and managed to get a tuk tuk together to Spicy Laos Backpackers. Unfortunately another group from our boat had got there just before us and taken the last beds - bugger! So we took advice from the owner to try the other place in town - we found the road but not the place!! It felt like our shoulders were going to drop off after 15mins of walking around in the pitch black with all our bags. But we eventually settled on a guesthouse - Merry House 1 - down a side alley along this road, for 30,000 each. Me and the girls in one room and the guys in another.

Once we'd showered and got our heads together, we then ventured into town for food, which was another long trek to Th Sisavangvong road, the main street. We stopped at a restaurant that also did drinks and sat there up until curfew - Laos has a curfew of 11.30pm so everything has to legally shut down, apart from the bowling alley and one or two places allowed to stay open. During our meal, two English lads the girls had met in Chiang Mai turned up and joined us. So we just ate, drank beer and chatted before heading back to our guesthouse and heading to bed shortly after. We'd decided we'd have a big night tomorrow and try out Spicy's in the morning to see if they had any beds. During the night there was a massive thunder storm, which was fun, but other than that we slept soundly!

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