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Great PaulVDV 2020-11-21 8:39

Hello Malgo,
Nowadays the boats are much wider and a bit more comfortable.
I would think longer too. But I don't know if you were in the middle or at one end of the boat when you took this picture.
Today's boats have two seats side by side on the left and on the right and there is a wide aisle in the middle.
The luggage is loaded into the hold. There's a primitive toilet on board and you can buy drinks and noodle soup.
Pak Beng is not large, but near the Mekong almost every house is a hotel/hostel or restaurant. A little inland along the small river Beng, several people live. But there you won't see tourists anymore. We were only two to arrive by bus from Oudomxai. Just about everyone arrives by boat and that is only in the late afternoon or early evening.
Pak Beng isn't a place where tourists stay. But overnights are comfortable and cheap, and there is a wide choice of dining options.
I had a good budget room with a view on the Mekong and the hotel owner took his guests by car to the jetty in the morning. The shore is indeed very steep but it wasn't muddy at the time.
Pak Beng isn't a destination but a comfortable stopover along the journey.
I also don't remember children going to the landing or departure jetty. That was sometimes the case at the even smaller moorings along the way. There were a number of stops at very small villages that were not even marked on the map.
The trip from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang would take 7 hours, but eventually it turned out to be 8. Despite the fact that it was a nice trip, I remember being glad I didn't have to travel a second day on the boat.
It's like I wrote in my previous note.
Anyone who has travelled in Laos in the past will not like it that much anymore today. It is busier, more commercial, but also more comfortable. Whoever goes there for the first time will love it.
In any case, I loved being there and felt very homesick for Laos when I later arrived in its southern neighbour country.
Interesting to see the pictures of 2003.
Best regards, Paul

Old 11-22-2020, 08:42 PM
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emka emka is offline
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Talking To PaulVDV: Pak Beng

Hi PAul, Thank you very much for a long note. I do not remember much from Pak Beng. From the jetty, I ran fast to find any hotel for my group of 9. It was quite good. Maybe there were some hotels also. I looked at, now they have many accommodations. I looked also at the trips. Besides the slow boats, now there is a possibility of going from Thailand by a comfortably looking sleeper buses. It takes 11 hours. So, when you want to save time it is probably a good option. But I like going by the river. I do not like sea journeys when I do not see the shores. Besides this Mekong trip, I went by Rhine, Irrawaddy, Yangtze (three days). My dream is to go by Volga and Mississippi.
I understand your homesick for Laos when you returned. I felt the same when I returned from Ecuador. I wanted to go there back at once.
Best regrads MAlgo
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Old 11-23-2020, 06:34 PM
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PaulVDV PaulVDV is offline
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Hi Malgo,

When you have to find an overnight stay for 9 people, you should of course hurry.

I took a sleeper bus in Laos, from Vientiane to Phonsavan, and it was very comfortable.
Iíve seen even better sleeper buses in the busstation of Vientiane.
The only sad thing is that the best night buses leave all from Vientiane and into different directions. But once youíre somewhere else outside the capital and you like to go to a third destination, you wonít find a sleeper bus anymore. Only to return to Vientiane.

Iíve also travelled on the Rhine and the Irrawaddy. Never on the Yangtze. Both on bigger boats than in Laos.
And of course also on the Scheldt in Belgium

Regarding to the feelings of being homesick:
I wasnít talking of my return in Belgium. I missed Laos and its inhabitants when I was in Cambodia.

Best regards,
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