Art from wanderings
21 nationalities board a boat that’s oversold, people sit on the roof and in the aisles, but they sell beer in the back! Two days on a boat, stopping in a small town for dinner and sleep, we get in early so the tuk tuks can make some extra money.
New language new currency.
8000 kip is one dollar, as if that baht conversion wasn’t enough division, now they let us use hat and kip in one transaction.
Utopia is the bar here but everything closes at 11, at which point everyone goes bowling! Tonight we will see what that entails, but until than, we are staying at a backpacker hostel, meeting lots of travelers and exploring town!
Journey from Pai to Laung Prabang
If you’re looking for a social experience, the two day slowboat from Pai is a magical way to go. What better way to may a boat full of new friends than forcing two days of interaction on an oversold wooden boat – with beer!?
Coming from Pai, we bought the package that included the mini bus to the boarder, one night stay, and the two day slow boat adventure. This is highly recommended due to the complexity that meets you at the border. With Aya, we at least felt like somebody knew what was going on.
Motion sickness pills are a must for any 8 hour windy mountain bus ride, and the guest house is not memorable, but for the 6 hours of a bed that’s needed… it’ll do.
The next morning, we hopped into the back of apickup with our bags and go down to a river. Here, we “officially” leave Thailand and get on a super skinny wood boat to cross a river. On the otherside, it’s still confusing. We fill out immigration forms on the curb and hand over 36USD along with our passports (unless you’re canadian… you for some reason have owe this man 43USD…)
He walks away. We play with dying cats.
He returns and we all load a few tuk tuks down to a different river, where he leaves us with a man from Laos who scares all the travelers into booking guesthouse rooms with him right now instead of upon arrival. We can exchange money here, by which I mean, we can give the man with our passports Thai bhatt, and from his fanny pack, he will give us a bunch of Laos kip…We can buy snacks here, two non packaged options across the street from each other. Bread, cheese, tuna sandwiches, identival product, identical cost, identical service.
We hectically climb on the boat. Our tickets are meaninglessly numbered, and the numbers don’t match. The boat is oversold so people sit in aisles and on tiny plasic lawn chairs. We are excited that the seats aren’t wooden!
The boat leaves. It’s been 30 minutes, 90 minutes, 300 minutes… 2 days on the boat. It’s incredibly beautiful and allows you the time to read, write, talk to strangers. 21 nationalities and nearly as many empty bottles of beer on the captains’ stand as we pull into our one night stop over.
People from the village jump on the boat grabbing bags to carry so they can ask for money and the kids touch anything of yours they want. Pringles? Peanut butter?
We climb into a pick up to our pre-booked guesthouse. Tile floors, a decorative pillow on our beds! We order breakfast for tomorrow and a packed lunch and search the street for dinner. There’s a number of restaurants and surprising amount of pastries. Koy, our table of nine orders and can hardly eat from spiciness.
You learn quickly, getting to the boat early is key. Our seats were much better today, and because the seats are not nailed to the floor, you can turn rows to face each other.
Another full day of beautiful sky and mountains. Lush hills, the boat makesoccasional stops at villages along the way, and if you’re real lucky, a local may have brought puppies along for the ride. Talk about entertainment
Frusterating, is the early drop off…
We arrive early to Laung Prabang with a boat full of new friends. dispersing to find accomodations, evereyone is rediscovered at Utopia by night. I’ve never had so many friends in a city I’ve never known, but it allowed for an incredibly social and laid back experience.
Three nights in Laung Prabang is perfect. Everything except the bowling alley closes by 11:30 and, I can’t imagine going three nights in a row, we went for one. Lots of exploring the town and market, renting bicycles is a must!
Today we leave pai and thailand. Headed to the Laos border for a slow boat to Lang Prabang which all sounds beautiful except for the eight hour mini bus ride through the windy, speedy mountains that comes first. We are better prepared, however, having just picked up a pile of motion sickness, 1 baht per pill (30 baht is a dollar).
I’m at the point in this trip that feels like… ” oh, this is my life” and its a good one.
I’ve really enjoyed pai, more than expected. I found the laziness and slow pace, a reminder to take time. The overcast mornings protect us from the intense sun and the on and off rain throughout the day, saturates the lush mountains and small gardens. Western and thai food available on the streets and in small restaurants is good and cheap.
Motorbike filled streets with the occasional cautionary reminder wobbling around on crutches, bandaged from head to toe.
We found some nice places but quickly became regulars. You can lay down and be very comfortable (and barefoot!) in nearly every bar. Many are filled with books, pillows, incense, and live music.
We made friends but all temporary for the natural transience of the town.
Final thai food, massages, and we hope to survive the bus!
– It’s strangely hard for me to right about pai for some reason, leaving will help me think more clearly on it!