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Klingon Dogs

I  have noticed a genetic trait that is true for about 99% of dogs in Laos. They may be different colours, they may be different sexes, but they all have little klingon foreheads!
 Klingon Dog

Sus' Sadaii Cambodia

We took the advice of a guy on the bus to 4000 islands in Lao to make our own way across the border. Apparently it was cheaper and easier. After trying to get a bus, and discovering there weren't any, a nice man in a mini van who apparently organised trips across the border to Stung Treng, gave us a ride for $10US. But he dumped us at the border, spoke to a guy and left. We got stuck for about 3 hours in the middle of no where  with a car and a driver. On asking why we couldn't leave yet,  he said we had to wait until the car was full. I didn't know what this meant.

Fitting 9 people into a Toyota Camry Sedan is easily done, if you take any form of comfort out of the equation. After all it was only 60km, much of which really needed a 4WD. You have 5 in the back, 2 on the passenger seat and 2 in the driver seat, making sure that the driver is on the inside so he can change gears. Easy as!!! And I thought clowns were talented!

Eulogy to Laos

Laos is a lovely place to unwind, and relax. But overall, there isn't a hell of a lot to do. Sure there's trekking and restaurants and the occasional Laos nightclub but overall, it's  just easy going. If I had use an animal as a metaphor for Laos, it would be the Sloth.

Many of the places I travelled to were rural. Most people farm rice, have a few pigs, chickens, ducks and water bufalo. Many make extra money by selling snacks, cigarettes and beer, or renting out bungalows or rooms to weary backpackers. They seem to  have a lot of spare time on their hands and love to use every extra moment to their advantage.Like cats, they do this by  sleeping the days away in hammocks while the dogs hang out on the dirt street corners and the cats are surprised that their owners sleep longer than they do.

The people are lovely, but you can almost feel your motivation slipping away, as the heat, humidity and endless supply of cheap places to eat and drink constantly challenge your every ounce of self discipline!

La gohn Laos.

Konglor Cave

We did a 3 day trek out of Thakek to Konglor cave. The cave is amazing!!! It's 7.5 km long and you travel through the cave by longtail (boat). It is so enormous! At points the roof is too high for your torch to reach. You could build an entire city inside. At certain points we got out and hiked up underground hills to see stalagtites and stalagmites. Unfortunately I no digi camera. Only film.

My first Laos Orchestra!

I was on a 3 day trek in Northern Laos to the hill tribe villages.

In the village, our little area was sort of boxed in and the locals, for some reason, found our every move extremely interesting. So much so that we usually had at least 10 kids, and a handful of adults staring at us.  I like the idea that we came to see how they live, and yet it's us who also gets to feel like a dancing bear on display.

It was a little uncomfortable. I felt I needed to entertain them and I started to sweat when all my crazy (lame) finger tricks and sight gags  were starting to wear thin. So I had an idea to entertain the kids and also to motivate us to drink the very warm Beer Lao (no electricity means no fridge)!

I thought of  a simple song (Mary Had a Little Lamb) and worked out how many notes it had, which told us how many bottles of beer we would have to drink. Once we'd finished with the beer, I went and filled each bottle with enough water to make all the required notes. I gave a demonstration as to how to make a sound by blowing over the top of the bottle. The kids all got it pretty quick.  After a bit of rehearsing, I managed to get the kids and some of the adults blowing out the tune  under my conduction. We drank some more beer which gave us more notes. So we moved into the much more difficult territory of Jingle Bells. A bottle Orchestra!

Backlog (sorry)

I'm sure you've all been eagerly awaiting my next blog entries and thus have been disappointed at my lack of recent additions. Sorry but I have a long list of excuses- too long to go into here but I will just say that Laos was very taxing on the motivation!

The next few entries are basically ketchups on stuff that happened a while ago. I'll separate it out to make it easier to read.

Vang Vieng

Currently in Vang Vieng. The scenery is beautiful here. Amazing cliffs and mountains surround this small town and there is quite a lot to do here (if you can haul your arse away from the reruns of 'Friends' and 'The Simpsons' that continually run in every bar/restaurant. A nice place to relax.

Went to Tham Hoi, Tham Loup caves yesterday, and Tham Nam cave today. Tham Nam cave houses an underground waterway. We went in on tubes with little head mounted torches. After floating and exploring for an hour or so and winding our way about a kilometre into the cave, my light decided to die. My friend Hannah's light was also coughing and spluttering with the intervals of complete blackness growing longer and more frequent. We decided we should probably have told more people where we were.....

But luckily we came out unscathed!

Tubing is also awesome fun down the Nam Song river. Just remember to pace yourself with the Beer Lao or you'll end up killing yourself off the many (some very high and very rickety) jumps and swings at the bars- especially since most places offer you free Laolao (lao whisky).

Sabaidee Laos

Goodbye to Thailand (finally) and hello to Laos. The differences are already obvious and welcome! For one thing there isn't a 7/11 or Boots pharmacy anywhere! There is also only two ATM's in the whole country. Laos is much less tourist orientated, a fact which is fast changing. It is also much less developed, a fact that is also changing rapidly.

I am currently staying in Luang Prabang  in central northern Laos. It is a really lovely smallish town with a lot of french colonial architecture. Because of the french influence, they also have pretty good bread, baguettes and croissants!

It is also the home of a bear sanctuary run by "Free the Bears Fund. inc". I found what they were doing to be really interesting and inspiring. I got chatting to an English volunteer there who said that there maybe volunteer work available in Cambodia, from anything from one week to two months. They also had a tiger there housed in a large jungle enclosure. She would come right up to the fence so you were literally only inches away. When presented with a ball, she would run around the enclosure like a kitten. Damn they can move fast!

No photos for a while though since the new Sony Cybershot broke and is in for repair.

Thailand Eulogy

Since I have now left Thailand for the rich green pastures and extremem lo-fi of Laos, I thought I would make a list of the things I remember of Thailand:

  1. Thais with battons
  2. Lady boys gropings with bricky hands
  3. How much can you fit on a moped: Mum, 3 kids, a dog,  and  a reverse-cycle air-conditioner!
  4. "Same same" (but different).
  5. "No I don't want to buy a new suit"
  6. So many dogs/strays with saggy boobs
  7. English girls really can use urinals.
  1. Lady bars- Connect 4 means more!
  2. Geckos! I love 'em (even in my hospital room)
  3.  Boring perfect beaches with no surf. What's the point?
  4. Stupid ferang on mopeds,no helmets, no shirts, no long pants or shoes- No sense!
  5. Bargin, bargin. Even then you get ripped off, but always with a smile :)
  6. Singha Beer and Beer Chang.

Feel free to add any that I've left off. I'm sure I've missed most of the good ones.

Cock Fighting

While in Ayutthaya (the old capital) we stopped at a monument surrounded by statues of giant roosters. Because our tour guide had such bad english, no one on the tour really knew what they were all about. Something to do with the king of Thailand and the king of burma using cock fighting to settle which country owned that piece of land. Better than a war I reckon.

They were no match for me, even with my broken arm.