Riverboats in Laos
To get back to Thailand we decided to take the slow riverboat. This was an excellent decision, as our decisions so often are. (Just kidding. We make wrong decisions 87% of the time. This is a rough estimation.)
It was raining when we left Luang Prabang in the early morning, but it wasn't a long tuk tuk drive to the muddy river docks, and it had turned into a hazy gray day. The rain had become a drizzly mist obscuring the horizon. We carefully made our way down the slippery shore to the anchored riverboat and climbed aboard.
We piled our bags at our feet and got comfy in the old car seats that had been dragged onto the deck. We had two days of 8 hour boat rides ahead of us, so we curled up and read our kindles, munched on bags of potato chips and sipped instant coffee they sold from the back of the boat, and took in the ever-changing view.
Our boat was a long wooden one. Once upon a time it had been painted red and blue, but the scabs of old age and long use had scrubbed the paint to patches. It drifted passed mist covered mountains, dark green jungle, bamboo huts, secluded villages, and local fishermen with old eyes and silent stares. The thrum of the boat engine was in one ear, the splash of the gray river as it churned under us was in the other.
Every now and then we'd pull over to the shore and a local would clamber out of the boat with a rucksack, and wander into the jungle. Sometimes there would be signs of life at these stops, anchored wooden boats or a collection of bamboo houses in the distance, and sometimes there wouldn't be.
The first day was over sooner than we expected, and the boat stopped at a small town that overlooked the river. We headed straight in and started bargaining for a room-- it was good that we didn't waste time, as other boats came in not long after ours, and the rooms filled up quickly. We grabbed some dinner, bought snacks for the next day, and called it a night.
Day two was much of the same-- an early start, beautiful views, and lots of kindle reading. It was dusk when our second day finished, and we hurried to cross over into Thailand, the last two to make it through customs before they closed the border for the night.
We were headed on to Chiang Mai.