We left Thailand and crossed the Mekong River to the Laos side and picked up our ride. We have splashed out on a luxury boat and there was only us and a Swiss family on a boat designed for 30 people.
We spent the whole day cruising and enjoying the sights. At the moment it is the dry season and the river has been very low, but there is a dam upstream in China and they have just agreed to let some water out. The river was therefore quite high and we easily negotiated the rapids amidst beautiful scenery.
There is a speedboat that does our two day journey in six hours, and quite a few boats shot past us in both directions. It was very noisy and bumpy and most people wore crash helmets. Our guide told us that it is dangerous as well as very unpleasant.
Finally, we saw lots of people panning for gold along the banks and this is a popular thing to do in the dry season. I don't know how many of them get lucky though.