Distances on maps can be deceiving. What looks like 3 hours away could turn out to be, you know, like 12 hours. The journey to Huay Xai, Laos was 12 hours long. Starting in Pai, Thailand we drove to Chiang Mai and arrived at Chiang Khong around 12 hours later. We spent the night and woke up at 7, and crossed the boarder which was not only expensive but long (4 hours). My traveling companions and I arrived in Huay Xai, booked our Gibbon Experience for the next day, and promptly took a 4 hour nap. An amazing surprise awaited us when we woke up.
Turns out we happened to arrive in Huay Xai on the day of their boat racing festival. Hundreds of lanterns filled the sky, competing only with the candle boats peppering the river, like stars in the night sky. It was as if we had millions of bright stars above, and a strip of the starry night sky right at our fingertips running through the black landscape below us.
I am incredibly lucky.