Ben's Southeast Asia Trip travel blog

down the hatch!

yum!

swimming pool

another waterfall


so....i was here the other night at the internet cafe, typing away diligently for almost an hour, and then when i clicked on "done", the computer froze, and i lost everything!

so this message might be a little more abbreviated than normal.

and on top of that, it seems that the longer i am here, the connections and the hardware both keep getting slower and slower, so i will just upload a few photos, other wise i could be here for hours.

i am in pakse in the south of laos now. i stayed in luang prabang for about four nights, and loved it, but i was ready to move on, and as things seem to be going, i left a giant metropolis (bangkok) and have graduated down to smaller and smaller places along the way. pakse is what we would call in the states a two stoplight town. and to get even further into the middle of nowhere, today a group of us are leaving for this place in the very south called four thousand islands, which is this series of islands down in the south of the country on the mekong where all there is to do is lay in a hammock and read a book, so this will be my last transmission for awhile as i wont have any access to the internet until i get to cambodia.

anyway, the last few days have had one major common theme and that has been the search for waterfalls, which are abundant in laos due to the thick, wet jungles and the mountains of this beautiful country. the scenery here is amazing! the bus ride from LP to here was a little scary at times, riding on a bus through hairpin curves over mountain passes, but the green heavily jungled mountains are incredible to watch whizzing by, and while i wished i couldve gotten more pictures, there were no great shots from my seat, and for good reason, the bus driver waited to stop until we got to flatter land.

so LP was a great little town, and i ended up spending the last few days there checking out the local temples, and sampling the lao food, which i think i might even like more than thailand (although the menus seem to overlap quite a bit). one of the main ingredients here is water buffalo as a meat source. just like beef, but a little tougher. works great for a burger though. tons of flavor.

anyway, i was mostly hanging out by myself there, but i took a trip to this waterfall that everybody agrees is not to be missed, and it was a scorcher of a day, so it was great to swim in these gorgeous cerulean pools. it was actually a series of about ten waterfalls, feeding into one another, most with swimming pools at the bottom. it was beautiful! i was there for about 3 hours, swimming and sunning, and as the guesthouses in LP havent caught on to the need for swimming pools yet, the cold clear water was welcome.

i met this guy from france at the falls, so we ended up having drinks and food later that night. nice guy, and after so many journal entries, it was good to be able to chat with someone for a change. turns out he was huge twin peaks fan, and he about had a conniption when i told him i worked at the salish.

left Lp the next morning, on the bus ride i mentioned earlier, although travel in laos is very slow, so i didnt arrive until 24 hours later in pakse! on the sleeper bus from ventiene, i met some fellow travellers, and we have been hanging out the last few days. the first day we arrived we rented motorbikes (gotta get one of those!), and took off east of town into the hills and found another waterfall, with a gorgeous little swimming area nestled in some trees. and then yesterday we took a trip to the bolaven plateau, which is high up in the forest and is also the primary growing region for the famed lao coffee, tea and.... marijuana im guessing. i got offered weed by my waiter more than once in LP, so that should give you an idea how prevalent it is here. i've heard horror stories of huge fines on the spot ($700-$800), so i havent sampled any of the local green here. i have, though, in the last few days, tried the "laos laos", which is basically what we would call moonshine. its made from rice, and although it didnt make me mean like tequila can, i definitely had some strange dreams last night! while i am on the subject of my immodest imbibing, i should also say i took a shot of that firewater they serve out of these big jars with cobras, turtles, other snakes, giant insects, whatever at the bottom, which they say will add years to your life. yeah right. i had heard about this stuff at the restaurants i had worked at in the states, so when i finally saw some, i had to try it. i had to PAY the guy who was selling it to get him to take a shot with me, which should have told me something, but i drank it anyway. OUCH! i really had to hold it in to save face, but my throat was sore for about ten minutes after that, and i began to wonder if i was getting sick. felt great later though, so maybe there is something to it!

anyway, i'm really enjoying laos. the people are quick to smile, and everyone is very friendlay and helpful. on the downside though its supposed to be a lot cheaper than thailand, but they are also raising prices here steadily, so you just have to relax and go with the flow. definitely cheaper the farther away from the cities i get.

while alot of the food here is similar to their neighbors to the west, you can definitely feel the french influence here. baguettes and great, yummy sandwiches are for sale in the streets and at the bus stations, and there are banana crepes for sale from the street vendors too. in place of the strange, gelatinous desserts the unnatural pastel colors of 70's era tupperware, you are just as likely here to find pain au chocolat or a nice croissant. its a nice change. they also do a much better breakfast here! in thailand, i just quit eating in the morning!

anyway, everybody, hope this isnt too boring. i will write more from siem reap, and the temples of angkor!

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