I think I know what's happening...
I need to be in Pai until tomorrow night... I've got an 8PM phone call with a potential summer employer.... After that, i'm a free man - and with my visa waiting for me (Insha' alla) at the border.
The problem, as always - is time. Not my departure to the states, but New Year.
April 13-16 is the Thai/Laos/Burmese new year... and a gigantic water-fight in the street. I'm expecting it to be like Holi in India, only much much much more water (and hopefully, less paint). I've been told that the city to experience this is in Luang Prabang.. however, this is a major tourist city, and I'd rather avoid this...
From a bit of googling, I found another backpacker who wrote on their blog:
"This meant that I could watch the big boat race in Nong Khiow that marked their start of the New Year 3 day festival. It was exactly like Henley boat race with village competing against village, 12 in all, and supporting teams would dance and sing their boats on. It was impossible not to get drawn into their celebrations and with a Laos wine in hand..."
This sounds lovely.
Plus, Nong Khiow is just an hour away from Muang Ngoi, an amazingly chill town that people have been telling me about - which is also one of the areas that the US bombed the living crap out of during the Vietnam war (making Laos the most bombed country in the history of the world) - The US, of course, still denies its involvement in Laos.
In any case. My plan:
Take a night bus tomorrow (Friday) night to the Thai/Laos northern border - April 7th
Hightail it as fast as possible to Muang Sing, right near the Laos/China/Burma border - take photos of people smacked out on opium, and maybe a few poppy fields.
Hightail it even faster and make sure i'll be in Nong Khiow for the 12th...
Watch the boat race on the 13th.
Spend the next week and a half chilling out in Muang Ngoi - stretched out in a hammock, and bathing in the river.
Hightail it from Luang Prabang back to Thailand for my 5 star hotel stay on the 28th of April.
Fly home on the 30th. Boooo.