The slow boat day two was really nothing to write home about. We woke up early, ate breakfast, ordered lunch to go, and got our seats on the boat. We were told to arrive early because they would take the two boats that arrived and combine them into one. We had been warned about passengers having to stand or sit in the aisles so, naturally, we claimed our territory first thing. In the end we did not need to arrive early because there were two boats and more than enough seats.
Let me explain the seats on the boat to you. It is as if someone ripped the seats out of a coach bus, nailed them to slabs of wood, and then threw them onto the boat. No, actually, that is exactly what they did. They move around quite easily as you could probably imagine and so Avi and I turned a couple of the seats around and made a little cluster of four seats, two pairs facing each other. We sat and talked to a couple across from us named Sam and Lisa. We also met a girl from Australia who is traveling the world for the next five years, she started her trip six weeks ago. The day went by slowly, we read, napped, listened to music, talked, and ate.
At one point the boat made a hard turn and Avi and I got soaked with water. It happened pretty quickly and almost felt like a ride at an amusement park. Literally nobody else got wet and we were soaked head to toe. All I could do was laugh as the other passengers stared in awe. We dried almost instantly and Avi only had a mini panic attack about bladder cancer.
We arrived in Luang Prabang around five, after eight hours on the boat. Getting to the hotel was a bit complicated. The boat drops you off about ten kilometers outside of the city center and you need to take a tuk tuk into the city. We rode in with Sam, Lisa, Reut, and Efron. Once we got into the city we all went our separate ways but planned to meet up later. The three of us got a bit lost trying to find the hotel and ended up walking in circles for a little until we finally found it on an unassuming side street.
We checked in and then walked over to the night market to grab dinner. The night market here is awesome but they all start to look the same after a while. We found a side street that had vegetarian food, which you take Mongolian barbeque style. You fill up your bowl and they heat it in a large wok and hand it back to you. It cost 10,000 kip, or $1.25. We met a couple of dutch travelers who had just biked (motorcycles) through Vietnam. We sat and ate with them and heard stories from their travels. We then walked around the night market and ran into Reut and Efron. Efron taught me some hebrew slang words which, combined with all the Farsi slang I am learning, makes for a very confusing set of inappropriate foreign words in my head. Efron’s friend suggested we go to a bar called Utopia which we had also heard about from some other travelers. On our way there we ran into Sam and Lisa and they decided to come along with us to the bar.
In South East Asia there is a culture of not wearing shoes indoors. This has been true at our guesthouses, many restaurants, and all religious sites. When you walk into the bar there are piles of shoes sitting at the door. I had never been barefoot in a bar before because why would I go barefoot at a bar ever? It was kind of fun actually, I think I prefer to not wear shoes. We sat at a table outside and played cards. Other travelers from the boat saw us and joined in – it was definitely a good place to meet up with friends, especially because nobody has cell phones or each others information. I thought it was fun to just decide on a place to go and hope to meet others there. It isn’t common anymore, but imagine if New York was like that. I think nights out would be a lot more fun.
Luang Prabang has a curfew of 11:30 or so and because of this the entire city shuts down. It is sort of spooky to walk the streets at midnight because it feels like it is three in the morning. I heard there is a penalty if locals are caught out after curfew but the law is not enforced for foreigners. The bar closed around 11 and a lot of people go from the bar to a bowling alley just outside the city, where curfew is not mandated. I decided to go home early but the boys went bowling. I have a feeling I am going to love this city.