Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Lazy Laos days


We finally crossed into Laos . Our first land border crossing on foot. The minibus dropped us off at the crossing, took our $45 and passports, handed them back 20 minutes later then we were told we could cross. So rucksacks on our backs, blistering heat at midday and we walk along a short dusty road through both barriers into Laos. We both looked as guilty as when you go through the 'nothing to declare' at the airport, have no idea why! There is nothing the other side, just a bus hoping to fill up before he leaves, so we wait half an hour for twenty more people and head to the ferry. Three minutes in to the journey there's a loud explosion from the back of the bus and smoke and fumes. A guy runs to the front shitting himself because he thinks we've gone over an unexploded mine.....in the middle of the road that runs from the border to the ferry! The driver casually gets out and has a look round the bus, just a blown tyre. Upon a suggestion he do something about it he says 'only five minutes more. I need to come back, pick up more'. This followed by horn blowing to encourage everyone back on the bus quickly. Great to know that his next fares are more important that our safety.

The ferry is little more than a dug out canoe with an outboard motor and a very low roof. We're on along with our bags and after 10 minutes travelling through beautiful green waters past little island oasis of tropical trees we arrive at Don Det. It's one of the so called Four Thousand Islands of Southern Laos. During the dry season this area of the Mekong has literally thousands of tiny sandbanks and islands covered in vegetation. Only a few are inhabited because during the rainy season they are lost to the swell of the mighty Mekong. Don Det is 7kms around the island which is basically split into two sides, the sunset side and a sunrise side. The sunset side is busier and attracts the younger stoner crowd who party, well, until the curfew time of 11pm. The sunrise side is quieter and has less choice of bungalows but we have decided its worth the 2kms walk and its cooler this side of the island. Our bungalows on stilts at Mr Tho's are basic. A bed but get this, with a sprung mattress, a fan, a toilet and a sort of shower and the all important two hammocks on the verandah that looks out over the river. This is an expensive one at just over £6 a night. There are no roads on the islands so bicycles are the order of the day. Anyone that knows me will know that's not good. First day I fall off getting stuck in a deep dry rut on the path. Nothing to do with the three large Beer Laos that we'd just had I'm sure!

The power is on all night and so is our fan so we are cool enough to sleep, that is we should be able to sleep. But do you know how loud millions of frogs can sound? They make the most incredibly annoying noise. This sleep disturbance is closely followed by what I thought was a stalker. I can hear someone creeping around next to and under our bungalow. I thought they were drunk as they crash into one of the stilts. But when I look out the window all I can see is a caramel coloured cow looking for something to eat! And the the icing on the cake, Chris' all time favourite creature, the cockerel. Now I always believed they started at sunrise but these buggers start at 3 in the morning. And virtually every household has at least one, why? So ear plugs tonight.

weird shit:
Caterpillars that you can see at night because they have head lights. No kidding, their heads are like little lanterns.

A little skinny stray tabby cat wiht half a tail that followed us home from a restaurant the first night. She followed at a discreet distance and when we stopped, she stopped then ran a bit to catch up.Tthe second night she was actually fighting with the cat of the restaurant we were in (a different one) and she followed us home again. At a distance but let us stroke her. Then the weird bit, third night we walked half way round the island to a restaurant and on the way back she appeared behind us again. Escorting us home. Don't know how we'll feel if she appears again tonight?!

Expensive shit:
Snickers bar straight from the fridge......£1.25 but absolutely lush. First choccie bar in a long while!

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