Laos: Slow Boat Day 2

I get up at 6:30 in order to take a shower and make it in time for breakfast downstairs, which they asked us to pre-order from a menu last night. I ordered a banana pancake, which turns out to be the best of all the breakfasts. Bonus. They also asked us to order our lunch, which they’ve packed up in boxes so we can bring them with us on the boat. So lovely!

Some mountains are visible from the patio-style common area, and in the distance we can see lush green mountains, with light morning fog weaving it’s way behind and around the peaks. I’ve never been so happy to be awake this early.

We pack up our stuff and toss it all into the back of a truck once more, and ride down to the pier to get started on our second leg of the slow boat journey down the Mekong. Today is supposed to be a longer stretch than yesterday, but I don’t mind because it’s another beautiful day in Laos, and our boat squad of people are all awesome.

The morning half of the trip is a lot quieter than yesterday had been. Everyone pulls out books and headphones, which suits me just fine because I am not a morning person. Eventually the games start rolling and everyone wakes up, then the boat ride becomes much like yesterday’s.

When we finally arrive in Luang Prabang (a city in Laos along the Mekong River) we go in search of a hostel. This isn’t even close to as easy as it was yesterday. We find a spot that agrees to take all 14 of us, but when we get in, we find it’s a pretty dirty hostel with 6 beds per tiny room. Not all of us feel comfortable there, so 8 of us go off to find something better. We take a tuk tuk to another hostel we’ve heard is nice, and start asking about prices. This one is more expensive than the last so we move on. We wander down the street to find a guest house that can take 8 of us, which is great but it’s followed by a whole lot of confusion. The prices, number of rooms, and number of people they can hold changes a million times before we finally agree on a price, and confirm that they can in fact hold all of us. We end up getting to stay in 4 double rooms for 30,000 kip ($3.85) each. We’re all starving by the end of it so we decide to find food. We come across a street market where there’s an outdoor all you can eat buffet for 10,000 kip (basically free). It’s a mistake. Everything is unlabeled and therefore a mystery, and most of it is uncharacteristically cold. I buy a fruit smoothie after dinner to cleanse out the bad choices I’ve just made. Can’t really go wrong with a smoothie. It’s also a bit of a mystery, but it has pink dragon fruit in the mix, so it looks cool.

After dinner we go to an outdoor bar down the street from our hotel. It’s really cute and has lots of drink specials so we stay there until they close… which is at 11pm. EVERYTHING in Laos closes at 11pm, the whole town just shuts down. We’ve heard about this kinda under ground late night bowling alley that stays open until 3am so we give it a go. 14 of us hop in two tuk tuks and drive out way further than we’d anticipated, to a building stark in the middle of nowhere, and around to the back entrance door. We are among about 10 other people there, which is not what we were expecting but we have enough people in our own crew to set up two bowling teams. By the time we are finishing our first game, the bowling alley is filled with people and has turned into the after hours hot spot we’d heard about. The snack bar is selling beers behind the counter and playing top 40 music as loud as their little speakers can go, but at some point or another the noise from the crowd causes the music to fade out into nothing.

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