Mark, Kane and I were going in the same direction from Huay Xai – right back down the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Considering our experience taking the speedboat up the river, you’d think we’d go for the slow boat or the bus this time. But Kane made the case that we’d already taken our hit and therefore the speedboat made the most sense. Mark and I liked Kane’s “lightning never strikes the same place twice” argument, although it was a little too easy to picture ourselves standing on a deserted sandbar as night fell.
Graham and Lindsey, the British couple in our Gibbon Experience group, pushed us over the edge. They were going to Luang Prabang too, and with five people we could buy out all the seats on our own speedboat and ride in relative comfort.
Bregje, the Dutch girl traveling by herself, had originally said she wanted to take the two-day slow boat to Luang Prabang, but when she heard about our plans she asked to join us. We told her about our experience coming upriver and explained the layout of a speedboat. If she came with us, two people would be miserable because they’d have to contort themselves into a tiny compartment for a minimum of six hours.
Cue the guilt trip. Bregje looked hurt and said if we wouldn’t take her she’d have to travel alone. Given that she was traveling alone I didn’t feel too bad for her, but we wanted to find a way to make it work. We suggested splitting into two groups and hiring two boats. It would cost more, but all of us said we’d do it. “No, I don’t want to pay more,” said Bregje. That was enough for us and Bregje stormed off. Kane said he saw her the next morning and she wouldn’t even make eye contact. Bregje didn’t appear to be enjoying her trip very much.
It turns out that Kane was spot on with his lightning theory: he, Mark, Graham, Lindsey, and I breezed down the river in six short hours without a single incident.
That night in Luang Prabang the five of us met for dinner. Mark and Kane were leaving for Vang Vieng the next morning so we had to say goodbye. Thanks to our misadventures – the inadvertent homestay in Luong Thong and the highs and lows of the Gibbon Experience – I felt like I’d been friends with those guys for a long time and I was bummed out see them go.
My plan was just to hang out in Luang Prabang for however many days it took to work through my photos, catch up on the blog, and – most critically – prepare for my fantasy football draft.