Pakbeng, halfway along the Mekong River between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang is our stop for the night and in fact the stop for everyone travelling down river. It is the only place with the guesthouses and restaurants to cater for guests. With the addition of electricity last year, I think it will grow quickly. Not much more than a village during the day, the place becomes a hive of activity as the evening boats dock in. Some enterprising local kids carried our bags uphill to the hotel for 20 baht each. I would have been quite happy to carry my bag the short distance, but their smiles and shows of muscles were too hard to resist.
Dinner was a comedic affair of mixed orders and missing dishes. The bottle of Beer Lao that I nursed while waiting for my meal though was light, crisp, and refreshing to drink as I watched the sun slip behind the hills, leaving a view as black as can be…and eventually I ate.