Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong
The journey from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong was simply amazing. The rotating fan in the bus, manual ticketing, bumpy road, frequent stops to pick and drop, cramped goods, free natural air to ‘massage my face’and weird/surprised look from locals made the journey more meaningful and joyful. The journey really brought my younger age moments back to life. The frequent way I travel from downtown Rantau to Linsum Estate which I had lived 30 years back.
Interestingly the one travelling with me was a French gentleman, Julien. He sounded like a very passionate travel photographer and he astounded me with the breathtaking pictures that he had taken. He also guided me on many advance photographing techniques. Thank you Julien (picture below) . Additionally, there were two other travelers from Germany, Benjamin and his friend.
To Houay Xai (border town in Laos)
Foreigners are not allowed to cross to Houay Xai (border town at Laos) through the Mekong River. They will have to cross through the Friendship Bridge. Therefore, four of us were dropped by the bus driver at a junction to Friendship Bridge before reaching Chiang Khong town. The Only Choice available to reach Laos Immigration from there was by Tuk Tuk (100BAHT/5 minutes). Once I exited from Thailand immigration, there was a bus waiting to bring us to Laos Immigration (50BAHT/ 5 minutes).
Laos is very ‘rich’ in many ways even economically not boosted. The hospitality expressed by the immigration officer with her greetings and welcoming face really impressed me first of all, which hardly can be seen in any other country. What media and news portray about a country could be based on very poorly justified facts. So, I always prefer to keep the facts to be inconclusive until experience it first.
The journey to Luang Prabang via Mekong river (down stream) took two days. The boat was cramped with travelers from around the globe and also with local people. The boat seats were customized by using recycled van seats and it was not comfortable at all as the pain can clearly been seen on many faces after a couple of hours of the journey. Most of the helpers in the boat were children and teenagers.
The back side of the boat has been ‘designated and declared’ unofficially for smokers. So, the space was fully booked all the time by some travelers to smoke and drink. Some permanently stayed there until the end of the journey. Due to some safety reasons, slow boats were not allowed to sail at night. Therefore, the boat departed from Houay Xai at 9am and anchored for a night stay at a small town called Pakbeng.
Even though Pakbeng is a very passive village, BUT …………….( some random dramatic horror music playing from some random house up on that hill)
TO BE CONTINUED! thun…thun…..thun! ( again some random dramatic and tense music from a random and tense horror movie)