Remember the film "The Beach"? And the extremely grotty guest house where Leonardo met the French couple?? Well, I spoke too soon and was just saying how pleased I was to have escaped even slightly bad accommodation in Thailand...and then I arrived in Lao. First night there and was dropped off the slow-boat, which takes 2 days, in a town called Paq Beng. Now the only reason you would visit here is because there is no other choice on the slow boat, and they know this! As a consequence the prices are much to high for what you get and the greedy little man pesters you immediately to order your breakfast and lunch, even before showing you to a room. And the room!!! Well, I was quite relieved to see a big mosquito net to keep out all the bugs and creatures I could hear all night, then again, it probably also kept in thousands which were sharing my bed with me! Think I escaped very lightly as another bloke had had his rucksack eaten through by a rat. Who wanted a sitting toilet, a shower or even a light in the bathroom anyway??? Made us thankful to be back on that slow boat again the next morning, although the seats were tiny and bums were numb within seconds.
The Mekong River itself is beautiful, and I enjoyed watching the world go by and seeing the locals at work, fishing, farming or just waving us by. The landscape was also very dramatic with huge mountains all around all a lush green. The boarder crossing from Thailand was a bit of a palaver though, so quite pleased to have been on a package trip so just followed the crowd and still not sure why quite so many people had to see my passport, but we took a tuk-tuk, crossed the river in a boat and then another taxi to the slow-boat....The trip was very sociable and I met lots of people with similar traveling itineraries to me, so expect to be seeing many of them again.