I decided to take the slow boat to Pakbeng and spent a pleasant day with wonderful scenery sailing up the Mekong river. It took ten hours and I drank lots of beer Lao and two novice monks were getting into Gorillaz and Morcheeba on my portable CD player. Pakbeng can only be described as a wide bend in the river and consists of a small street about three restaurants and half a dozen guest houses and everyone trying to sell you opium and weed. We found rooms for $2 a night but the toilet and shower were across the road and down an alley. The next morning up bright and early and all the other English people decide to opt for the speedboat option for the remainder of the journey. The speedboat is best described as a long built up surf board with a 2 litre 16 valve Toyota engine attached to a propeller. It was uncomfortable but the journey took only 2½ hours once we got going - the first boat broke down 200 metres after we set off leaving us stranded on a sandbank for 20 minutes until another boat arrived. Other than the odd AK47 toting fisherman the rest of the journey to Houayxay was fast and uneventful.
Steve's Big Trip. Ayutthava. Start. • Chaing Mai • Koh Lanta • Koh Samui • Koh Yao Noi • Angkor Temples • Battambang • Phnom Penh • Siem Reap • Sihanoukville • Champassak • Luang Prabang • Pak Beng • Pakse • Savannakhet • Vang Vieng • Vientiane • Xepon • Disaster. End.