After ten days in the pearl of Southeast Asia, I finally move on. This time with a slow boat to the Thai border. At short notice, I decided against exploring Laos. The north is green and beautiful. However, I have already seen jungles in Nepal (three and a half months), southern China and now also Laos. I'm not interested. So I continue.
For two days I sit on uncomfortable wooden benches on a motor-driven longboat, which drives me with about fifteen other people in two stages to the border. The shores of the Mekong usually consist of deep green slopes. We see the locals roaring down the river, catching the nets (in sunshine and floods) and praying in temple caves. We see cows looking for relief in the water of the river from the heat of the day and fish jumping over the surface. Mosquitoes don't get to us because of the constant movement of the boat. The cool breeze nestles pleasantly around my arms, and it only becomes stuffy when the side foils are lowered because of heavy rain.
We sleep in a village on the banks of the Mekong, in beds that we share with ants. Since ants usually don't sting (if you don't annoy them) and don't bring dirt into the bed, we don't label them vermin, just guests (or aren't we the guests?). It's a full bed. I share the room with a casual American travel acquaintance. Thus, the place is so cheap that it's hardly worthwhile to complain. I'm glad when I can escape in the morning. He only noticed the ants falling asleep. Whatever the night brought, the day brings release. Without air conditioning, the temperatures remain bearable on the water. From the safety of the chugging boat, one can contemplate the simple, hard life in these climates and glide past it as an uninvolved observer.
I don't know why, but I've seen so many little places that I manage to draw a stencil of "the" Laotian city in record time. The result is that I lose interest in the numerous places along the main roads. These roads are lined with simple concrete buildings in which the families often sell goods to the street and live to the rear. The fruit is in baskets on the roadside, flanked by minimarkets and stray dogs. Everywhere, tuk-tuks and scooters populate the street.
Until we arrive in Thailand, we start walking from the boat dock to the border, before the heat drives us into an already full tuk-tuk. It's the same driver that we had just left behind after he had asked for a horrendous price. It turned out to be a translation error. Instead of 170 Bhat for a 30-minute journey, it's only 50. Shit happens. If you haggle, you have to be ready to go. What isn't in the head, is in the feet.
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