Laos
Pak Beng

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  • Day47

    Slowboat

    December 10, 2018 in Laos ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Vandaag ging het allemaal om wachten en varen.

    We kwamen om kwart voor 10u aan bij de boot die we richting Luang Prabang namen met een overnachting in Pak Beng. Die boot vertrok pas om 11u30 dus hadden we tijd zat. We zaten eerst wat op een trapje in de schaduw, maar werden dit rap beu. Dus zijn we nog een koffietje en een theetje gaan drinken wat verderop.

    Terug rond 11u en we zagen dat mensen aan het opstappen waren. Wij stapten dan ook maar op. We zaten helemaal vooraan. Onze plaatsen boden niet het beste uitzicht maar we zaten gelukkig ver van de motor die oorverdovend luid was.

    Onderweg stopte de boot om lokale mensen op te pikken. Dit waren we al gewoon van de bussen. De boot zat aardig vol, eigenlijk al overvol want sommige mensen hadden geen zitplaatsen meer. En soms stapten er ook mensen af. Vanaf het begin zat er een heel oud vrouwtje op een trapje omdat ze al geen zitplaats had. Steven zijn hart brak en na twee uur varen heeft hij van plaats verandert met het oude vrouwtje. Daarmee veroverde hij het hart van de andere toeristen en als beloning kreeg hij een whisky cola van twee Amerikanen. Uiteindelijk kwam er meer plaats vrij en konden zowel Steven als het oude vrouwtje zitten op een degelijke stoel.

    Na zes uur en een half kwamen we toe in Pak Beng. Het uitladen gebeurde wat hectisch. De bagage dat vanonder in het ruim zat werd op een soort drijvend platform gegooid en natuurlijk wou iedereen zo snel mogelijk zijn zak, dus stond dit platform behoorlijk vol. Ondertussen liepen er nog kleine kindjes tussen die ook graag wat spulletjes meepikten. Wij hadden de guesthouse van de boot geboekt. Dus vervoer hiernaar was in orde. We gingen samen met andere mensen van de boot die in hetzelfde guesthouse zaten, eten. Het werd een gezellige avond met lekker Indisch eten en vele laobeers. 😊
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  • Day111

    Pak Beng

    January 30, 2018 in Laos

    Nach 9 Stunden Fahrt im Boot sind wir für eine Übernachtung in Pak Beng angekommen.
    Es ist wirklich nur ein kleines Dorf, aber voll mit Guesthouses und Restaurants, weil täglich neue Touristen von den Booten zur Übernachtung kommen.
    Hier konnten wir dann sogar in einem einfachen Guesthouse mit Doppelzimmer und eigenem Bad für 6 Euro übernachten! 😄
    Am nächsten Morgen ging es dann nur wieder runter zur Anlegestelle, wo wir dann auf der anderen Uferseite einfach mal 2 Elefanten beim Trinken beobachten konnten. 🐘😅
    Sowieso haben wir während der Bootsfahrt so viele Büffel- und Rinderherden und auch einige Einheimische bei der Gartenarbeit am Ufer beobachten können.
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  • Day14

    Day 14 - Slow Boating Down The Mekong

    February 21, 2017 in Laos

    We had the warmest goodbye from the Day Waterfront Guest House in Chiang Khong which involved the couple who owned it forcing bananas on us for our journey and waving away our tuk tuk to the port like family members.

    Leaving Thailand and entering Laos is a mix of straightforward and faffy. You do Thai immigration, buy a bus ticket where the price is based on an eye ball of how big your luggage is, bus to Laos immigration which involves your passport disappearing through one window and reappearing 20 minutes later through another after dollars have exchanged hands. Then another tuk tuk to the slow boat which will carry us over the next 2 days from Houey Xay to Luang Prabang. Today was the Houey Xay to Pak Bang leg. Our tour guide is Mr Wong. His English is...ok. But he does use about 10 sentences of ramble where 2 would do which makes for some confusion. And says 'same same but different' a lot.

    There were about 30 of us on a long boat that's for a max of 40. Seeing as I'm anti social and don't like forced chat with strangers, especially for a whole day, I was delighted I managed to look surly enough to put anyone else off sitting in our booth. See photos for a pic of the boat but there are central booths, a seating area at the back and a flat you can sit on at the front. The scenery was stunning the whole journey passing lots of other boats, fishermen, cows etc and I was very happy catching up with my book/napping in between staring off the sides.

    We stopped at a local village on the way to Pak Beng. To be honest I didn't like it. The village was obviously not rich and the company give 2% of profits to the village in the form of clothes and school equipment so they gain in a way from it but it felt very voyeuristic. It was like going to a zoo but the exhibits were people. There were 2 boat tours visiting this small village at once, and I imagine others come every day, and the villagers didn't look thrilled as some of our group were leaning on their houses and taking close up pictures of their children. It was interesting to see another life less financially privileged but just made me unhappy that it has to be this way. A bit dose of perspective.

    After that we got back on the boat and had lunch which was very food considering it's mass catering on a boat. I then had a nice nap but realised I should probably go sit at the front and appreciate the view. Matt was already there with a beer in hand. We travelled till about 4.30 and after some more Mr Wong confusing rambles we got to the right hotel. And we even eventually got to the right room after assuming a key with 1 and 0 on it meant room 10, which was actually already occupied, not room 1 which was our actual room. Silly us. It's an interesting room. Dark wood walls and our first mosquito nets of the trip but also the first hot shower. The view from the balcony is awesome across the Mekong. We went to the bar next door for a pre dinner beer. I think it might have actually been someone's house that they've stuck some tables in and laminated a menu. We saw an elephant though on the opposite bank as the sun set and beer is about a £1 for a mega bottle so we'll take it. Dinner was a random set menu at the hotel included with the room which we ate on a forced shared table with a couple from Halifax but I survived.

    Another day on the boat tomorrow. If we make good time we can make a stop in whisky town. Whoop whoop!
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  • Day156

    We spent today travelling with a “slowboat” from Luang Prabang to Pak Beng. Tomorrow, we will continue on the Mekong river to Huay Xai, where we will do a three day hike with the Gibbon experience (you sleep over in tree houses and use zip line to get across the valleys - should be great :-)).

    The slowboat is a quintessentially Laotian way you f travelling on the Mekong. We enjoyed the opportunity to relax on the boat (it has seats for maybe 40 people But was only half full), look at the stunning scenery rolling past and listening to our audiobooks.

    We also met two fellow travellers - a married couple who originally come from India but have lived in Germany for the past 40 years. We were impressed how - despite their advanced age (70 and 60) they both set off on a 40 day journey through Cambodia, Lao, Vietnam and Thailand. We want to remain that adventurous when we’re that age!

    Apart from Anna, who got up early to do some yoga before our 7am departure from the hotel, we didn’t move very much today. Still, getting up so early made us both tired and so we’re in bed before 10pm :-)
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  • Day80

    Day 80: Up the Mekong to Pakbeng

    September 3, 2016 in Laos

    Up and out very early this morning in time for our cruise! We were leaving Luang Prabang and heading up the Mekong River on a two day cruise to the Thai border, at which point we'd cross back into Thailand. The tuk-tuk arrived for us at about 6:45, and was already crowded with a group of 4 French people. A few minutes later we arrived at the dock where the boat was waiting.

    The boat itself is fairly long though not wide - probably about 30 metres long and maybe 3 metres wide. Not especially tall either, it sits low in the water as I guess most river boats do. With enough couches to seat 35 people we were expecting a crowd, but we learned to our surprise that the only passengers on the cruise were us, the four French people (who weren't actually in a group, just an older couple and a younger couple), and an older German lady. We also had two guides - one speaking English, the other French, along with a crew of 6 or so and a few Lao company employees hitching a ride up the river for the day.

    We set off around 7am and immediately were served breakfast - buffet style with sliced baguette, croissants, boiled eggs and bananas. Very French. The boat moved up the river at what feels like a reasonable speed, but is actually quite slow, and the scenery only crawled past.

    After an hour or so on the water we had our first stop, at Thousand Buddha Cave. This is a large limestone cave in a cliff directly against the water, filled with thousands of images of Buddha. Some very large (3-4m tall), others only a couple of inches high. Some of them were very old, but they were all put in there recently to protect them from American bombing during the war. As mentioned, parts of Laos were very heavily bombed, and everyone over the age of 45 remembers it.

    We didn't spend long here, maybe 15 minutes, before hopping back on the boat. The boat slowly made its way upriver, and we spent our time listening to podcasts, reading and just watching the scenery go by. It was mostly jungle here, mountainous in some places but not in others. Constantly rolling hills though, and overall not very populated.

    We had a buffet lunch on board the boat at about 11:30, with two different stir fry dishes and some fried fish - all very tasty, though some of the fish pieces had a couple of bones in it which always puts me off.

    Not long after lunch we arrived at a small village where we hopped off to take a look. I wouldn't necessarily say it was squalid, but it was very poor and the children selling bracelets (and some of the women selling silk scarves) looked quite desperate. But I just can't bring myself to buy in these situations, though mainly because I'm not particularly interested in silk scarves! Our guide La took us around the village pointing out various items of interest, including a gong at the Buddhist temple made from an old American bomb. These people were "lowlanders", ie they lived just near the river in houses on stilts, as opposed to the uplander tribes which live further up the mountains and only use small stilts.

    Back on to the boat, and that was out sight-seeing for the day. We spent the next 5 or so hours just cruising along, watching the scenery and enjoying the relaxed pace of life on the water. The current was very strong (we were going against it), and it seemed like it was quite a shallow river as there were lots of whirlpools, eddies and so on. And of course huge rocks sticking out of the water.

    We also saw several speedboats bouncing along the water - they can take you from Luang Prabang to the Thai border in about 4 hours (we were going to take about 16 hours over 2 days to do the same). We had briefly considered a speedboat but they have a very dubious safety record, and are extremely uncomfortable. Imagine sitting in a wooden canoe with no leg room in the sun for four hours while you get jolted by waves, blinded by spray and deafened by the engine - not our idea of fun.

    Approaching sunset we finally made it to the town of Pak Beng, probably the largest settlement we'd seen since leaving Luang Prabang. The cruise company have a small lodge here for about 40 people, and each pair on the cruise were allocated a separate bungalow. They were quite nice - not luxurious, but definitely comfortable enough for one night, and to be honest we could have even stayed longer.

    Dinner at the hotel restaurant was provided - three courses of Lao cuisine including beef soup, spring rolls, pork mince salad, stir fried vegetables, red curry, and coconut & banana sticky rice balls for dessert. We were very impressed with the food - although we'd had a fancy dinner the previous night, this was almost as good! Topped it off with a cocktail of Lao whisky and curacao, very strong but an interesting mix.

    Off to bed very early (9pm) as no wifi and no TV meant we had to talk to each other!
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  • Day36

    Pak beng

    January 11 in Laos ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The slow boat I took was a two day trip, with a stop in Pak Beng. After immigration and the necessary tuk tuks, I got to the boat. I paid a little bit too much in hindsight, but not that much as I traveled as much as possible by myself.

    I was very lucky because there were so many people that they had to get a second boat. The first boat was already full, an only a handful of passengers still needed a spot, so the second boat was not that busy. The motor is on the back of the boat, completely in the open! So if you were in the back of the boat you had a lot of noise.

    On the boat I met some other Dutch people and we spend our day on the boat chatting, but also some alone time.

    Pak Beng is a town that revolves around the slow boat stop, there are lots of guesthouses and some restaurants, and they all try to reel you in.

    After we some food we went to a bar to play some pool, but not for long because I was really tired from the last couple of days.

    The next day we were really lucky again, as we got the boat with the nice seats, as opposed to the boat with the wooden seats. After a day of relaxing on the boat, we finally arrived in Luang Prabang, but we had to leave the boat by a very small wooden plank haha. Of course we had to take a tuk tuk from were we where dropped off, because they try to get as much money from you as possible.
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  • Day4

    Pak Beng

    December 7, 2012 in Laos

    Nach kurzer Fahrt führt uns der heutige Ausflug in das Städtchen Pakbeng. Nachdem wir den Aufstieg geschafft haben, machen wir uns auf, den lokalen Markt zu besuchen.
    Hier in Pak Beng begegnen wir auch erstmalig den Geisterhäuschen, von denen wir schon so viel gehört hatten. Ein Geisterhäuschen gehört vor jedes Haus, hier ist Platz für die Geister der Ahnen. Wer möchte denn schon den Geist der Schwiegermutter im Haus haben? :-)))
    In der Tradition der Geisterhäuschen vermischt sich der Buddhismus mit dem ursprünglichen Geisterglauben.

    Der Weg entlang der "Hauptstraße" von Pak Beng schenkt uns nicht nur immer wieder wunderschöne Ausblicke auf den Mekong, sondern auch Einblicke in das ganz normale laotische Dorfleben.
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  • Day4

    Pak Beng

    December 7, 2012 in Laos

    Hier schlafen die Hunde mitten auf der Straße und werden sehr rücksichtsvoll umkurvt, und die Internetcafés sind nur durch die Reklameschilder als solche zu erkennen.

    Die Wäsche hängt neben dem Fleisch zum Trocken auf der Leine und die Geisterhäuschen sind allgegenwärtig, und über allem weht nicht nur die laotische sondern auch die kommunistische Flagge...

    Unser erster Markt in Südostasien hält einige exotische Eindrücke für uns bereit: Die Fleischerei im Freien (es hat ca. 25°C), der fangfrische Fisch, fremde Gemüsesorten und Kräuter, getrocknete Gewürze,getrocknete Schweineschwarte und verschiedenste uns unbekannte Pilze.
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  • Day4

    Pak Beng Lodge

    December 7, 2012 in Laos

    Für den Rückweg zur Anlegestelle nutzen wir erstmalig die in ganz Südostasien allgegenwärtigen Universalfahrzeuge: Tuktuks :-)

    Ziel der kurzen Fahrt ist die Pak Beng Lodge oberhalb unserer Anlegestelle, wo wir eine Erfrischung und einen herrlichen Ausblick genießen, nach der kurzen Pause bringt uns ein kleines Bötchen ans andere Mekong-Ufer, wo uns gleich noch mehr Sehenswertes erwartet: Elefanten... :-)
    Auch in Laos - einst das Land der Millionen Elefanten - sind Elefanten selten geworden.
    Die, die wir hier besuchen, haben als Touristenattraktion wenigstens ein gutes Auskommen und freuen sich über die Bananen, die die Besucher mitbringen.

    Auf dem Hemd jedenfalls findet sich nach dieser Begegnung ein perfekter Rüsselabdruck, wenn man die Bananen nicht schnell genug rausgerückt hat... :-)

    Nach dem anstrengenden Touristenprogramm ist erstmal Baden angesagt...
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  • Day66

    Pak Bang

    November 7, 2015 in Laos

    In the middle of the jungle.. 😉
    ...nach zwei Tagen auf dem Mekong und einer Nacht in 'the middle of the jungle' sind wir schliesslich in Luang Prabang angekommen. ☺

You might also know this place by the following names:

Muang Pakbèng, Muang Pakbeng, Pak Beng, Пакбенг

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