After a much needed hot shower and clean clothes after 2 very muddy nights and days trekking through the Laos jungle we made it back to Huay Xai and I sorted out my next journey: the slow boat to Luang Prabang - a 2 day boat trip down the Mekong River. Most of the group from the Gibbon Experience were heading off in other directions apart from an American couple and we headed down to the river the next morning to catch the boat.
Soon realised that we were on the budget boat and things were a bit cramped onboard, but a big group of us all ended up sitting together at the back of the boat, having a few drinks and laughs. Unfortunately somewhere along the way I managed to lose my purse overboard to the Mekong... not the end of the world and luckily someone offered to lend me some money until we got to Luang Prabang as Pak Beng - the slightly backwards town that we stopped in for the night - had no cash point (thanks Bryce!)! We did however manage to find the only bar in town so a group of around 15 of us headed down there for the night.
No one was sure what time the boat was ment to leave in the morning, all we knew was that it was 'early'.... Around 7:30am we headed off down the river through some amazing scenery - next stop Luang Prabang. Somehow our group of around 15 or 16 of us which had formed on the boat all managed to find a hotel which had room for all of us in town, we headed out to dinner that night and then to a really cool chilled out bar called Utopia where I bumped into some of the crew I had met in Chang Mai. We soon found that everywhere shuts in Luang Prabang at 11:30pm apart from the local 'disco' and bowling alley - I skipped the disco and headed straight for the bowling alley with the friends I had made in Chang Mai... I think a few beers seemed to improve my normally awful bowling skills!
The next day we all decided to go and check out the local waterfalls - the most amazing blue water I've ever seen! On our way back in the afternoon had a near brush with death as our tuk tuk lost a wheel, apparently the axle totally snapped off, and we went skidding towards a pretty nasty looking ditch and stopped less than a metre from the edge! That night we did pretty much the same as the night before only this time I braved the Laos disco before heading to the bowling alley again... Laos disco is definitely an experience!
Rumour had it there were some other waterfalls near by worth seeing so the next day a few of us hired motorbikes and went looking for them... after trying to get directions from some local women who spoke no english and didn't understand our sign language for 'waterfall' we stumbled across the most amazing view point ever so gave up looking for the waterfalls and chilled out there for a while before heading back to town where the rest of the group had booked our 'luxury' bus to Vang Vieng for the next day....
The bus turned out to be anything but luxury and we had a pretty squashed, bumpy and uncomfortable 7 hour journey through some amazing scenery to Vang Vieng... next stop tubing