Part 1:getting there
The morning of the journey to Laos began quite nicely, passion fruit shakes and eggy bread before hopping on our bikes to explore Pai one last time. We sped along to a waterfall where a very overweight Thai child sat at the top completely blocking off the water-flow before ceremoniously lifting his backside to release the water down onto the children waiting below, we spent a good 30 minutes watching this happen, crying with laughter every time. I usually hate seeing overweight children, but it was quite good to see him at least putting it to good use. There were cows everywhere around the waterfall, and I seem to have developed a deeply rooted fear of cows, which will haunt me throughout the rest of Asian trip, as they are bloody everywhere.
Eventually that evening the journey to Laos began, we all hopped into a cramped mini bus for the 6 hour journey to Pak Dong, where we spent the night in a wooden hostel, notoriously called the BoomBoom shack. We were bitten alive and the water from the sinks dropped straight through the plug and onto the floor, however breakfast brought a whole new light to the place; scrambled egg on toast sitting on a wooden deck looking out over the river. Happy days. It was an early start, as we sat outside on the back of a pickup truck full of our luggage speeding towards the boarder, the actual boarder was surprisingly swanky, we payed our dues and acquired a new visa, before hopping onto another bus which took us to the boat.
The 2 day slow boat journey, which we had transformed into our own 2 day booze cruise was epic. Armed with snacks, beakers, sangsom and coke we began drinking and floating our way down the river, undoubtably on the best seats on the boat. We were joined by 2 bearded English guys Cal and Dom, who became a part of the group. The group was complete.
The view on the boat was good, fires burning in the mountains due to burning season, local boats passing by, children playing on the nearby beaches and amused faces of locals on the boat as we played games, repeatedly asked where the beakers were and gradually talked drunkly between ourselves.
The first stop was 6 hours in, the group of us jumped into a truck and went to find a room for the night. We ended up in a wooden house, where in my shower I was joined by a cat, 3 cockroaches, 6 lizards and thousands of flies. We went straight out for dinner. I tried a typical Laos meal which was minced meat flavoured heavily with lemon, it was strong tasting but the free Lao whiskey shots given to us from the cafe owner soon took that taste away. I’m not sure which was the stronger tasting one. We spent the rest of the evening sitting on a guesthouse balcony getting to know each other even better, I now know how much Cal and Juan appreciate unicorns. Result.
Time for another day on the boat, awakening bleary eyed, full from a chicken baguette and armed with more sangsom and coke we got back on the boat, we had the same seats again luckily, meaning we could all sit together pretty much in a circle. Today our booze cruise was joined by a bunch of locals, who were at the front of the boat drinking Lao whiskey, and were completely hammered and singing by 11am. We had some catching up to do! It was another long day on the slow boat, drinking, chatting and listening to music before we eventually arrived at Luang Prabang.
2 days, 2 mini buses, 1 pickup truck, 2 boats and 3 tuktuks later we arrived at our hostel Khammy Inn, where Songkram had already begun. The final tuktuk into town left us all soaked with water, kids blasted water-guns and threw buckets over us, it was madness, and had only just begun.