Recently slow-life, slow-food, and other slow things are hot. After crossing the border of Laos we decided we also want to slow down a bit. We bought a ticket for a slow boat and off we went!
The slow boat experience in Laos is a way of transport and an entertainment in one. You can go from Houayxai to Luang Prabang with a night bus and have a nice sleep, or you can go with a boat which takes two days and is incredibly beautiful. On the first day we had a great place – almost right in the front, with the entrance next to us (in case we would like to run away or something) and the engine far behind us (no noise, no smoke!). We said hello to everyone around us and it was time to start the journey.
Well, it would be time to start if the captain was there. The boat was scheduled at 11 o’clock. At 11:30 people were still arriving with huge bags and baquettes in their hands (Laos as an old French colony is full of baquettes shops, you can get it everywhere!). I was napping a bit, we had enough time to make friends with our neighbours, many people already ate their lunch. Suddenly, something happened. A man who was sitting in the back run to the entrance followed by his girlfriend. His arm was covered with blood. It turned out that he cut his hand open on a sharp metal thing. Unfortunately, he cut it right on his veins, so it was bloody and dangerous. Fortunately, there was a doctor on board so he took good care of it before the couple went to the hospital. I guess people were very bored because of our delay and hungry for something exciting, because they were taking photos of this poor man like he was an attraction in a zoo. I was imagining how later they will show the photos to their friends: “Oh look, this is us crossing the border, this is a beautiful jungle, and oh, THIS IS A MAN WITH A BLOODING HAND, THAT WAS AWESOME!”. Well, at least it’s something.
Finally, the captain arrived. He showed up for a moment and then disappeared again. Our group in the front didn’t care anymore because we had fun together. The journey didn’t even start yet and it was great already!
Around 1 o’clock there was an announcement that the boat is leaving NOW. After another half an hour we finally heard the engine starting and the journey began.
I always enjoy the nature that we see on the way, but Laos wins it all. This country is just so incredible! We spent six or seven hours on the boat and every moment of it was beautiful. The jungle on the sides, the mountains all around you, children playing in the water. Although Laos is very touristy, it still has the original spirit.
After the first day on the boat we ended up in Pakbeng. We went for a dinner and found a great Indian restaurant. Stefan and Etienne, two Dutch boys from the boat joined us and together we had a really nice evening. The next day we were a little bit too late with Kev and the boat was almost full, but we got two places in the back. This time our journey was accompanied by the engine, but it was not really a problem. Laos was still beautiful, the river was calm, and that was all that mattered.
Our final destination was Luan Prabang. This city is full of tourists and full of overpriced hotels. We spent there 3 days, which was more than enough, and headed south to Vang Vieng. The only problem in Laos is the Internet. It’s so slow, that probably you will read this post when we are far in the middle of Vietnam, but it doesn’t matter. Enjoy it anyway!