08/01/2011 – Boat Trip to Luang Prabang
We got up, took a few photos with the cute little baby from the hostel we were staying at, ate breakfast and then headed off down the hill to the boat pier on the river. Feeling rather tender from yesterday’s all day session we opted for the quieter looking boat, although the Brutish Aussies (all now donned in their teams football strip) looked just as bad as they pulled out on one of the other boats just as we were leaving.
“Look, its Dave Rowntree” Ben said nodding to some guy who’d just got on our boat.
I missed his face but could see he had short ginger hair, which was perhaps the only reasonable requirement for a lookalike, especially a ginger one. I didn’t have to wait long to see his face, as he stopped, took a deep breath, turned around and looked down at the two beaming faces turned up towards him, now trying very hard to conceal their laughter.
“The Drummer from Blur, right? Yeah, I hear it all the time” he said, taking it with good humour despite not really having a choice.
I had to explain to Ben that you always have to be discreet with lookalikes as that person has probably heard it a million times. This advice sailed out of the boat window and into the Mekong River as Ben then queried if one of the Laotian deckhands was in fact a Peruvian. Just as Dave Rowntree did, the guy stopped what he was doing and glared at us, although surely he didn’t understand that, surely? We sat with Aussie Paul for a while, before landing in Luang Prabang. A lovely gem of a town, we were escorted to a hotel near the river, everybody going separate ways again.
The Hotel we found, again via riverbank escort, was very nice and had I come with a missus, as opposed to Ben, I’m sure I’d have been more grateful for the swan shaped towels on our beds. Out in the kitchen I saw an old fridge magnet that read, “Nestle sponsors the SEA GAMES 2009 – VIENTIANE”. How the fuck does the capital city of a landlocked country host the sea games?
We went out after a few beers in search of some good food, and what we found exceeded our expectations tenfold. The town was very pretty with pastel coloured town houses and cream coloured holiday villas it “could’ve easily been Southern France or somewhere” we both agreed. This lead us to make the observation that the very nice parts of South East Asia are bound by how much they resemble the West and so why do we bother?
After walking along a tributary of the Mekong River we found an old wooden bridge that crossed over to a much darker wood. We crossed it, not knowing what to expect on the other side with the wood creaking below us and the water gushing below. The series of colourful lights in the trees on the approaching hillside were our guide, our northern star if you like. In the dark we found the hillside path and began to climb, flanked by hanging lanterns dangling from the trees. Our curiosity was rewarded with an amazing restaurant, constructed out of several little huts. Shower fresh and gagging for some peace and good food, we easily settled for this. We sat in our hut with its Turkish pillows and hot coals and ordered the Laos Fondue which comprised thinly cut strips of fine beef alongside chicken rice and vegetables. This place was perfect; there were even proper holidaymakers here. Sons with their Mums and Dads, that kind of thing. It was a really peaceful evening, and after a few beers we crossed back to backpacking world and hit another Hives Bar, a franchise of the place we went to in Pakbang.