To Houn and Back Part V / by Joshua P Jacks

For our final post, we’ll take a look at our time after heading out of Houn. We left Singkham’s village and headed southwest into Pak Beng. It was another 45 turned 90 minute drive to the quiet river town. Along the way, we were stopped by a group of young cattle herders. We saw a few of them coming up over a hill and then a big group shortly followed. Just as quickly as they'd arrived, they dissappeared into the tall grass on the other side of the road. It was a pretty surreal sight to behold.

This was our first look at the cowboys.

This was our first look at the cowboys.

Hang on!

Hang on!

Houn cowboys heading off into the sunset.

Houn cowboys heading off into the sunset.

We made our way into Pak Beng late that evening. This is a small town that has a steady stream of falang (foreigners) coming through. This is mainly due to it’s boat service to Luang Prabang from Houy Xai, Laos, as well as destinations further up the Mekong and into Thailand. These services include a two day “slow boat” and a 2 hour “fast boat” to Luang Prabang. I’ll let you guess which one is uber dangerous.

Pak Beng boats 

Pak Beng boats 

Pak Beng Port in action.

Pak Beng Port in action.

Chillaxin

Chillaxin

A father and son having a quick chat.

A father and son having a quick chat.

This guy wasn't too impressed.

This guy wasn't too impressed.

Smoke break.

Smoke break.

Pak Beng doesn't have a lot to do, but it does serve as an excellent place to spend the night and get some food. Sean, Bruce, and I partook of the “free” meal that as included in the price of our room. Out of the three options, we decided that pizza would be the best decision, as it’d been a while since eating western food. We were pretty stoked when we saw three whole pizzas come out of the kitchen. We EACH got a pizza. Sorry, not sure if you caught that. WE EACH HAD OUR OWN PIZZA. Best guesthouse meal ever.

The three falang thoroughly enjoyed their pizza.

The three falang thoroughly enjoyed their pizza.

We finished up dinner and headed down to the river bank. At this point, we were pretty used to strange looks but the workers and patient passengers weren’t quite as warm as the new friends we’d made on the journey.

After a good night’s sleep we made started the day long journey back to LP. Early on in the trip we crossed over the river via ferry. We were just a few months short of the bridge being completed. Once completed, it will increase the flow of goods into Laos exponentially. This will bring opportunities for growth as well as exploitation in northern Laos. This is a common issue when it comes to progress in our area.

Waiting for the ferry.

Waiting for the ferry.

Boats for the current ferry service.

Boats for the current ferry service.

The ferry makes its last few river crossings in view of it's replacement.

The ferry makes its last few river crossings in view of it's replacement.

We made our way through the mountainous countryside and even made a few stops along the way. The three of us even had a totally unnecessary selfie opportunity. We stopped for some noodle soup in Hongsa and finished our journey that afternoon.

Noodle soup shop in Hongsa.

Noodle soup shop in Hongsa.

Good stuff...

Good stuff...

NERDS OUTSIDE!!!

NERDS OUTSIDE!!!

MOAR NERDS!!!

MOAR NERDS!!!

This mountain home was being occupied by a grandmother and her grandson when we arrived. As usual, we were greeted with some warm smiles and a friendly hello. We stopped here to take a few shots of the mist covered mountains.

This mountain home was being occupied by a grandmother and her grandson when we arrived. As usual, we were greeted with some warm smiles and a friendly hello. We stopped here to take a few shots of the mist covered mountains.

Employee parking.

Employee parking.

Another rural farmhouse.

Another rural farmhouse.

Farmhouses dotted the lush landscape. Here's just a few.

Farmhouses dotted the lush landscape. Here's just a few.

The four day trip was an eye opening experience. We made a lot of new friends and saw several new doors open for future get-togethers. The trip was very fruitful. With this post, we wanted you to see some of the people and places that we are privileged to come in contact with. Our hope is that as your eyes have seen the sights of northern Laos, your heart would be opened as well. This nation has been through some dark times, but we believe the future is very bright for Laos. As we wrap up this series, we ask that you’d remember us, the Lao people, and send some good thoughts this way. We hope to see you soon!