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Written on: Saturday January 26th, 2008

So this is it - my first day lone travelling. I say that but in reality you can't help but meet people when your out here, as I did on my journey on the slowboat up the Mekong towards Thailand. The slow boat takes around nine hours to get to its first stop of Pakbeng, where I stayed overnight ready for the second leg the next day. Pakbeng itself is a tiny and forgettable town. But I had good company in the form of Dawn from the UK and Noah and Amanda - a couple from Australia, so it wasn't too bad.

My accommodation was supposed to be included in the price for the slowboat, but as it turns out a receipt for the hotel with "paid" stamped across it doesn't mean much, and if you want to stay there you have to pay.... again. On asking what the receipt was for we were told it was to exchange for another boat ticket for the second leg of the Mekong journey (which we already had anyway) and in then end we didn't even do that.

On top of all this a local guy tried to direct elsewhere when we arrived in Pakebeng claiming that the guest house we had been booked into was full - another classic Asian con to get you to stay in there place.