Hello from Laid Back Laos. This is a communist country, due to the extreme poverty, but that doesn’t affect the beauty or how amazing the people are.
The Thai/Lao border was about 2 hours from our hotel. Upon arriving, we went through the border and entered no mans land. We then boarded a bus to the Lao border crossing and paid a $35 visa fee. After a 10 minute wait, we got our passports back with a brand new visa in there! We then crossed the border into country #42!
We all hopped on tuktuks and had about a 20 minute ride to the Mekong River.
We then boarded our home for the next two days, a slow boat along the Mekong River to Luang Prabang with an overnight stop at Pakbeng. The ride in the boat was breathtaking. We passed water buffalos, elephants, local fisherman and remote villages.
After 6 hours, we arrived in the trading post village of Pakbeng. We hiked up the hill and checked into our guest house, a very simple accommodation that did the job before heading out to explore the one street town.
We came across local kids playing with cardboard boxes and using them to slide down a steep hill.
We then took money out of one of the two ATMs in the town. I withdrew 1 million Kip ($120 USD) for the next week, so I can now say I am a millionaire! I then bought a SIM card for about $2 with enough data to get me to Luang Prabang.
We then headed to a bakery, a remnant from when the French colonized Laos, and bout pastries for breakfast the following day. Some people even got some coffee which is served in a bag. We then headed back to the hotel for an included dinner. The food was amazing, but my favorite was the spring rolls. We also had shredded chicken, sweet and sour pork, vegetables, soup, sticky rice and watermelon.
After dinner, we headed to the only bar in town, Happy Bar, for a drink. It was the exact atmosphere I dreamed of when I booked this trip. The bar was cut into the side of a of a mountain, so we walked down very steep stairs to get there. Once we got there, the music was blasting, a fire pit was roaring and backpackers were all over the place. We met people from French Canada and chatted with them for a bit. It was so relaxing just to chill by the fire and chat with some people. The bar staff was amazing, too, as they were so friendly and appreciative that we were there.
Pakbeng has a curfew of 11:30 PM, but we left at about 9:15 PM and were in bed by 9:45 PM.