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More stuff to look at from Laos….

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Vieng Xai

Getting from Muang Ngoi to Vieng Xai, near the Vietnamese border, was a battle. We got on the bus in the middle of the night clambering over sleeping bodies in the aisle, it broke down for four hours (check out the engine parts laying in front of the bus), and asking for a seat was sometimes fraught with danger….
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Eventually we made it to Sam Neu (almost to Vieng Xai), where I took this photo in the local market. Something about the look on the guy’s face sort of creeps me out.

And then finally, we got to Vieng Xai, home of the Pathet Laos’ secret caves, complete with a statue celebrating the victory over the United States. And let’s face it, if another country bombed the crap out of me for nine years without a breather, and then finally fucked off, I’d probably erect a statue in honour of the occasion as well. We were also pretty shocked by the fact that the locals are still sweeping areas to check for unexploded bombs (the UXO on the sign stands for Unexploded Ordinance). On our second day in town, the most exciting thing that happened was Bec giving me a haircut…
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Remeber the story about getting into the over-crowded truck with crazy Swiss guy. Check this out…. and remember, in that first photo, I’m still to get in after Bec…
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Stuff to look at from Laos….

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Morning Alms, in Luang Prabang

Well, technically this first one below isn’t in Laos, but it’s damn near close enough. This is Bec with Sayan, the greatest, friendliest guesthouse/restaurant owner you could ever hope to meet, who runs the Easy Restaurant/Guesthouse in Chiang Khong, in the northeast of Thailand where most people cross the Mekong from Thailand into Laos. This was taken at immigration, after Sayan had given us a lift down there. Best. Guy. Ever.

After we left Sayan we had the Gibbon Experience, which you’ve seen. Following that it was on to Nong Khiaw, from where we took the wettest boat ride down to Luang Prabang. No photos of the boat ride, but here’s a couple of shots that show the beauty of Nong Khiaw.
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Luang Prabang, the town of a thousand monks. Here’s some shots from the morning alms giving, where each morning the monks walk through the town and accept offerings of food from the locals. It is quite a moving thing to see, and whilst I tried to respectfully keep my distance when taking photos, there were always folks getting way too close to the ceremony with their huge cameras.
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Taking a boat ride (the best way to get around in Laos) from Luang Prabang out to a small waterfall nearby.

After Luang Prabang, it was back up north to the village of Muang Ngoi, a single-road village on the Nam Ou river reachable only by boat. It was from here that we walked a few hours through rice patties to the tiny village of Ban Na, and passed on the way a cave from whence a stream popped up out of the rock. Along with the rice patties, we also had to walk along a muddy, leech infested track through the jungle/forest. First off, Muang Ngoi….
The view from our riverside bungalow… and then looking back to our bungalow from the boat as we left
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A kataw match (like volleyball, but played using the rules of soccer, ie – no hands, only feet and heads) in the main street…
Kataw match

The main street…
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Gran Mama….. The place we stayed at was run by Mama, who looked after us like her own kids (hence the title). This is Mama’s mama – Gran Mama….

And some shots from the walk to Ban Na…
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Aren’t photos sooooo much cooler than words. Words are like myspace – old and crap. Photos are like facebook – all new and shiny. Ooh yeah.

The Gibbon Photos

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
So, I'm home. I'm unemployed. And I've got thousands upon thousands of photos to go through. Rather than bore you with more words, I'm gonna hit you with just a couple of those photos, because that's what the kids love ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nameo: One of those days…

Saturday, September 1st, 2007
It was August 14th when we left Vieng Xai. We had planned to leave the day before to head across the border into Vietnam, but were told that buses only leave the border three times a week. So a lazy ... [Continue reading this entry]

Muang Vieng Kham: Midnight Expres…. wait, what’s the opposite of Express?

Monday, August 27th, 2007
"Dave! Dave! Wake-up! The bus is here." It was 12.50am, we were in the town of Muang Vieng Kham, and the only bus coming through that little place to take us to our next destination of Vieng Xai on the Vietnamese ... [Continue reading this entry]

Muang Ngoi: United Nations Chillout

Friday, August 24th, 2007
When travelling around Southeast Asia, there's a fairly well-worn path that most people take. And it is far too easy to follow that path from the comfort of a tourist-only mini-bus getting you from one destination to the next. It ... [Continue reading this entry]

Luang Prabang: Like an Old Friend

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
Ahhhh, Luang Prabang. Once Bec's clothes had dried enough so that she could go outside wearing more than just a bath towel, we wandered the streets as darkness fell and reacquainted ourselves with this beautiful old town. It's a place ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nam Ou river: Water World

Sunday, August 19th, 2007
We strolled down to the boat pier in Nong Khiaw pretty early in the morning, hoping to see if a boat was heading south down the Nam Ou to Luang Prabang. "Hmmm, come back at 10.30," said the guy in charge ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nong Khiaw: Chocolate Water

Saturday, August 18th, 2007
From Huay Xai, we had originally wanted to travel by boat north to Luang Nam Tha. There was nothing we wanted to see in Luang Nam Tha, we were going there simply for the boat ride, which was said to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Huay Xai: Payment

Monday, August 6th, 2007
After returning to Huay Xai and reflecting on the madness of the Gibbon Experience with the others whilst taking a few group photos, we were returned to reality with a jolt when we once again attempted to pay for the ... [Continue reading this entry]