Laung Prabang

Laung Prabang

Arriving to Laung Prabang on a two day slow boat meant that you walk into a new country, new city, new language, new currency, new culture… With about fifty new friends.

You split up from the group, sticking with the few you really bonded with on the boat and checking into your various hostels and guest houses before you all go out exploring. Only to find this new city crawling with your friends… Which is an extremely strange feeling.

Utopia was the bar and staying in a backpacker hostel was perfect grounds for a social. Drinks and dinner are nice but everything closes at 11pm. Everything except bowling.

The tuk tuks take their positions before you even get to the last bar and pack us in to the back once we submit to bowling. You all walk into a well lit bowling alley, ten lanes, and bowl in bare feet. You know the names of about half the people in the room and the tuk tuks again, wait outside.

Bowling in bare feet is one of my new favorite things (and turns out I’m really good at it!) I played in the rain and caught a tuk tuk full of friends from my hostel, and that was enough bowling for three days.

The waterfalls snuck up on us the next day.

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Journey, Pai to Laung Prabang

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!?

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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