Along the Mekong to Pak Beng, Laos


Laos Immigration

The entrance to Laos from Chiang Khong, Thailand, is quite popular! Weirdly enough, the Laotian authorities didn’t seem that much prepared nor organized to welcome the crowd of tourists at the border…

After endless hours of queueing, Bertrand and I eventually got through. It felt like winning the lottery!

We then got to enjoy a peaceful cruise down the mighty Mekong river towards Pak Beng. Well, sort of… Let’s look at the bright side and say that, each of the numerous times the engine of our boat overheated, we got a chance to sit on the sandy shores of the breathtaking Mekong river. Wonderful!

Stopped on the Mekong

These recurrent stops made us arrive late in the dark at Pak Beng.

But then came the awesome part of the story at a local restaurant. A German backpacker we met three days earlier and a Swiss traveler joined us. We had a nice dinner and, as we went to pay, the restaurant manager and his wife had us sitting, chatting and having rounds of local rice whisky. Laotian style!

The Incredible Night in Pak Beng

The manager was an old Laotian man who talked English, French and Vietnamese. I was talking to him in Vietnamese, he was replying to Bertrand and I in French, I tried to translate in German, and we all talked together in English. At some point, the manager started to sing old French songs (et j’ai crié, crié!), which both Bertrand and I knew, but whose lyrics none of us could remember even nearly as well as he did!

But, more importantly, he taught us some Laotian! In particular, we learned the difference between how are you? (sabaidiiiiii) and I’m good thanks (sabaidi).

This night was a crazily unique awesome night, which I will never forget! Without a doubt, it was the most memorable night of backpacking I have ever had!