Laos: The Day We Missed The Boat (2006)

We decided that we would take the fast boat to Luang Prabang.  It was either that, a 4 hour trip, or choose the slow boat, two days including an overnight stay on board.

We weighed up the options, and there didn’t seem to be any positives to getting the slow boat. It would take much longer, we would be stuck on a boat for two days, and would have to scrap over a bit of room to lay down and shut our eyes for the night. The fast boat, on the other hand, would get us there in 4 hours. We could have the rest of the day to settle in Luang Prabang, and would have found a bed for the night, had a shower and be enjoying a lovely meal and cold beer whilst the slow boat was only a quarter of the way down the river.

We were staying in a quiet little guest house in Huay Xai. After a couple of nights, we booked our fast boat tickets and packed away our things, ready for the early start. We sat in the guest house restaurant for dinner, where we met a group of 4 travellers from up North.  They were celebrating one of their birthdays, and we joined them for a couple of 20p Laos beers. We had a great night, sharing travel stories and upcoming plans.  It turns out they were also leaving for Luang Prabang in the morning, though they had chosen the slow boat.

drinking in Laos

As the evening progressed so did the drinking, somewhat inevitable when you join a group of Northerners! Somehow, a bottle of very cheap Lao whiskey winged its way to our group. It looked vile. It tasted vile! But it was finished. Mostly by Darren and Simon.

Lao whiskey drinking

An empty bottle of lao whiskey

It was late into the night before we ended up finishing. I can’t remember if we even had dinner in the end? We said our goodbyes, wished each other safe travels and went off to bed, ready to catch our boat in the morning. By the time we woke up it was lunchtime. We missed our boat trip that day. Which was lucky. Because that boat trip was most definitely one of the worst journeys we have ever had to make. And it deserves a post of its own!

We could barely bring ourselves to get out of bed.  Our heads were pounding, the whole world spinning. I cannot remember ever feeling so bad in my entire life. In fact, I have never felt so bad since! It took a lot to leave our bedroom that day. The guest house owner just laughed. She rearranged our tickets for us. We spent the rest of the day with very sore heads. I will never know to this day how Simon, Ann, Kelly and their friend managed to wake up in time for their boat.

I do know however, having bumped into them in Cambodia later in our travels that they wished they caught the speedboat, and that their journey was just horrendous, and they couldn’t wait for it to end! And for that, I can only blame Champagne, the guest house owner who talked us into drinking an entire bottle of alcohol, which I still remember to this day, tasted nothing like lao whiskey, and everything like I imagine that paint stripper tastes of….

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