We arrived in Chiang Saen, what a bustling and vibrant border town it was, Pete instantly fell in love. We planned to dump our backpacks in a locker / left luggage place and look around for a few hours, then head to Chiang Khong. We realised almost instantaneously that this was definitely not a tourist town, no tourist information, no bus timetables...no lockers! Pete had the idea to call into the police station to ask if they knew of anywhere to dump the luggage. The policemen were super nice and said if it was only for the day, we could leave it there with them! (Providing we took any valuables). We thought, that was a pretty safe option!! For their kindness, we ended up buying them a bag of chocolate biscuits and a couple of kilos of oranges to which they were surprised and grateful for.
We took a quick tuk tuk ride up to the ‘golden triangle’ - had to say we had done that! As well as a visit to the Opium Museum before collecting our bags and heading for the long tail.. oh they don’t run any more, bugger, oh well we will just get the bus.. oh the bus doesn’t run on Sunday.. so we found ourselves in the back of the local song taew for the 1hour journey to Chiang Khong.
In Chiang Khong we stayed at the Hub Pub & Funky Box hostel a cheap and cheerful hostel run by Eve and God. The hostel guests are generally backpackers on their way to the Laos border and on to Luang Prabang via the 2 day slow boat. On our arrival we discovered that the boat we wanted to take wasn’t leaving until Wednesday (it was Sunday!). We could however take the rickety cheap boat on Monday along with 100 young back packers! It took us about a nano-second to pull the “we have the option of saying no card” and the upgrade!”. This forced us slow down for a while and spend 2 days discovering Chiang Khong.
Each day consisted of a morning walk along the river, accompanied by our hostel resident “guide dog” Zelda, whom also patiently waited whilst we had our street side bowl of noodles. On one of the days, one of the owners dropped us into the national park with a kayak and fishing rod. A couple of hours were spent in the serenely quiet park on the lake just paddling and fishing. Locals were dotted around the lake either fishing themselves or attending their small farms, one building their bamboo house another herding buffalo his from his canoe.