HELP! This is an urgent SOS from the Laos/Thai border! Come save me (you can leave Philippa behind)!
Just kidding, well, not really… but, we are surviving, I’m just complaining, again!
We arrived yesterday afternoon in Houi Xai, a little border town in Laos, just across the Mekong river from Thailand (with it’s alluring neon lights, fireworks and, if I squint hard a 7-11 and maybe even a McDonalds). More about Houi Sai later (I will need to de-breif).
Prior to our arrival yesterday, the past two days have been lovely… floating down (or up, or something) the Mekong from Luang Prabang. We spoilt ourselves and decided to go for the super luxary “slow boat” trip. Now, when I say slow boat – I really mean it. According to the GPS – the trip was about 320kms and over 18 hours travel time. The alternitive was the “fast boat”, which the secular Lonley Planet advises you “pray” before departure.
Starting bright and early on Saturday, we woke up at sunrise to see the daily monk parade. Luang Prabang is famous for their 70 or so Wat’s (temples) – 30 of which are still active. Every sunrise, Monks from these active Wat’s walk down the main street collecting food offerings from the local beleivers (and some visiting sleepy tourists). We have seen this procession elsewhere before, however due to the shere number of Monks in Luang Prabang – it was really impressive. Towards the end of the offering line were a group of beggers, and it was really touching to see the Monk’s give back some of ther supplies to those less fortunate.
Following the parade, we negotiated a rather expensive Jumbo (Tuk-Tuk) ride to the jetty where our boat was moored. We spent the following two days traveling rather slowly through some of the most beutiful countryside I have ever seen (will get the photo’s up sometime soon, hopefully). We stopped a couple of times at some minority villages and a small cave which was nice, however the majority of the trip consisted of chatting with the other tourists on our boat and waving to kids playing in the river along the way!
Upon arrival in Houi Xai, we nearly lost our bags as they were loaded onto a boat to Thailand with all the other tourists bags. Luckilly Philippa saw her bag on someones back heading towards the boat and managed to intervene after a quick sprint down the road. The locals all thought it was very funny (Hah hah, who on earth would stay here!!).
As it turns out, we stuffed up our airline tickets by a day – and we are stuck here for two nights.
Seriously though, the place isn’t all that bad. I just enjoy complaining, besides – I think we have been a little soft with this 3 star trip of ours! We managed to get some nice Indian last night and also managed to recover our lost mobile phone – I couldn’t beleive how honest the kid was who returned it!
I have developed a pretty serious heat rash on my arms, and managed diagnose and prescribe my own medication from the local chemist – 20 cents for some antihistimine (or sugar concrete, not sure). I haven’t died yet and I think the rash is going!
Back to Vientiane tommorow morning, we are flying – no more SLOW boats for us! Than we fly to Kumning in China! I can’t wait!