Things you can expect to see along the way: local fishermen setting up their nets; locals bathing in the garbage-filled water; nude children running down the riverbank waving at the boats like crazy; herds of water oxen wading in the shallows and rolling in the dirt. Of all the scenes, by far the most shocking was the floating pig I saw swirling amongst some waste.
Spending two days on the boat gives you lots of time to think, read, drink, eat what have you. It’s also a great bonding time for backpackers to share tales of the road. First, come the introductions and meeting each other. As people began to trickle in, a mini Himalayan mountain of backpacks had been formed, we’d see a hard-to-miss 6 foot 5, basketball-built dude sporting the trendy “I read books and like fine art” glasses look. Heading toward us, and getting an ear full of high-volume conversation from a group sitting near us, the nerdy giant shouted out “Man, I hate Americans.” Of course The Yank’s ears perked up, but more so because the guy spoke in a very American English. We’d pipe in with a rebuttal followed by amendments, clarification, high fives and new found friend in San Diego Brandon (an army serviceman and personal caddie to some big names like Bill Clinton) – oddly finding each other across Laos and in Cambodia.
Lao Lao whiskey is fun to drink, but more fun watching someone else drink it. A fellow boat mate Danger Dan (named on account of his hurting himself a few times, twice on the boat trip alone) took a big swig and a few minutes later spewed over the port side. Good thing the boat was only drudging along. If you visit Pakbeng you’re sure to meet the town drunk. He’s a googly eyed, stumbling, dirty Laos man, he’s not Danger Dan from Australia, although the appearance is scarily similar.
We’d make it to Luang Prabang and were ready for some Spicy Laos.