After 3 months in Thailand exploring paradisal islands, volunteering (and getting to hug baby elephants and do treks up into the mountains as part of my placement) and renting a house in Pai for the month – my tourist visa was due to expire and it was time to leave Thailand.
My original plan had been to go to Myanmar, but I had some issues with the E-Visa website and then with my bank when I tried to make a payment. I didn’t have much time until my visa ran out so I decided to head to Laos for my next adventure.
I got on a bus from Pai and headed past Chiang Rai to the border town of Chiang Khong.
We stayed there for the night and got dropped off at the border the next day. Once we were through immigration, we were eventually packed onto a coach and made our way to the small boat dock.
After a quick break to grab refreshments and food (such as a very authentic pack of caramel apple cookies!) we then walked up the small plank onto the long boat.
The boat glided through the muddy waters of the Mekong, frringed by foliage, backed by hills and mountains, and broken only occasionally by a small village – some wooden houses on stilts, small boats, fishermen putting their rods outs and children running along the banks and splashing in the water.
Occasionally the boat would stop along one of the banks and pick up a local person to drop off further down the river. The children took this opportunity to rush up to the side of the boat to try and sell woven bracelets.
We didn’t stop for any breaks other than to briefly collect people from the river’s edge. Once we arrived in Pak Beng, we walked up the hill to a simple guesthouse with a balcony that overlooked the Mekong
We went to one of the few restaurants on the small strip of road that was the town, after we sat on the balcony eating lychees and then settled down for an early night, ready to get on the boat again in the morning.