When we decided to go to Thailand, we had quite a few ways of getting there. The fastest was flying from Luang Prabang, Laos on a one hour flight for a whopping $150 per person. The second was to take another (probably) horrible bus through the mountains to Vientiane, then from there to Bangkok, then all the way back up Thailand to Chiang Mai which was our destination. The third option was to hire a slow boat which would take two full days on the Mekong river which is one of the biggest in Asia. It spans nearly 3000 miles long from southern China all the way past Cambodia and Thailand.
We decided on the slow boat and I must say I would recommend it to anyone wanting some relaxation in the middle of a big adventure. The first day we traveled from Luang Prabang, Lao to Pak Beng, Lao. Along the way we saw some of the best scenery Lao has to offer. We saw the confluence of the Nam Ou River meeting the Mekong as well as many tiny fishing villages and farms with no access accept by river.
Pak Beng is one of the smallest villages i've ever been. It had one street, at most a quarter mile long. I only saw two vehicles there as the rest were bikes and boats. We had dinner with about a hundred large bugs fighting to bite us and eat our food followed by one of the worst nights sleep i've had in a long time. There were baby centipedes on our bed when we opened the door among other little bugs and I kept thinking about their mass of little legs as I was trying to sleep. After waking up literally every hour we walked down to the pier and loaded up on the boat around 7:30am. At 8:30 our captain who was dressed in a pure white captains outfit started up the boat and we pulled out onto the river.
The second day started out with rain and loads of fog so we couldn't see much but by midday it cleared up. More villages and more water buffalo made it another awesome day of spinning around in our seats trying to take it all in. We arrived in Huay Xai, Lao which is a border town next to the Friendship Bridge IV (Thailand). Just 30 meters from the shore we found a great guesthouse with a view rivaled by none. Lawn chairs and beautiful tile work were a great way to end the day looking out over the river.
As I write this we are starting our second day out in Chiang Mai after a big night out at the NIght Market last night. Next on our journey is a full day cooking class on a farm (tomorrow) followed by our journey to Bangkok and then Phuket.