so i feel like the entries may be getting slower and slower, and less, shall we say, involved, and you can probably expect less and less out of me as i start to make my way around southern thailand, drifting from beach to beach, but i will at least try to make it sound like i have been doing more than laying in a hammock and teaching my european friends to play american card games.
a group of us left the sleepy little town of pakse and made our way to the very south of laos to this place called 4000 islands, which is basically a group of islands that range in size (and level of human activity) by a great deal at the very southern tip of laos, where the mekong splits off just before you hit cambodia. there is only electricity on a few of these islands, and even that is used sparingly during certain hours of the day, powered by a generator. as you can imagine, its pretty quiet.
on the first day, we scoped out this little bungalow place with great sunset views at $5 a night and then immediately got to the business of finding beer and food. once we all had some grub, it was back to the bungalows for a truly amazing sunset! and some good reggae until the lights and electricity kicked out at about 11.
typical morning activity usually involved a fruit shake for breakfast with a couple games of "31" and another trip to the hammock (every bungalow on the island has one on its porch) for some reading and snoozing. i finished a book in one day there. ih the afternoon, a swim in the river and some more cards, and then of course the sampling of the local cuisine, which while simple, was tasty! pumpkin burgers! who wouldve thought!?
but i dont want you to think it was all idle time on the island. we rented bikes and visited the neighboring island for a view of yet another (but equally impressive) waterfall. a dip in the mekong, and one of my favorite photos of the trip so far, and we were heading back to "our" island.
i have to say that the next few days werent very exciting. in a good way. lots of hammock time. usually during the afternoon, we would rent tubes, and float along the mekong with a beer in hand. always sunsets, and lots of beer laos and delicious food and fruit shakes. the hangover breakfasts are great there too!! you get 2 scrambled eggs, a big plate of fruit, a fresh baguette, some potatoes, a coke, an aspirin, and a valium, for $2!! its hilarious.
anyway, there were fires on the beach most nights, and by the fifth day i was feeling REALLY relaxed. there is also no way to get cash there, so when you are out of dough, its time to go, which is probably a good thing, because i might not have left.
anyway, i needed the chillout time, because nothing could prepare me for the nightmare when i left the island to head to cambodia. there was a little voice in my head all week telling me to take a plane from the mainland (back in pakse) to cambodia. ALWAYS obey those voices!
i wont go into all of it here, but the long and short of it was we got on the bus, just across the border, and the driver immediately stands up and tells us that we all need to get off and push the bus, because he needs to pop the clutch!! ok, no big deal, right? did i mention that (in another long story) i didnt have enough american cash (the only currency worth a damn over here!) and so i had to surrender my passport until i paid at the end of the trip. didnt make me feel good. at all. my passport is worth well over $28 (the price of the ticket), but these guys werent budging. of course, i LEFT the states with american cash, but...well its another story.
anyway, a few kilometers into the trip. the tire blew. of course. it was so loud it sounded like we were getting shot at! the bus stops. hilarity ensues. they dont REPLACE the tire, they "fix" it, which basically means an impromptu patch, and we end up stopping five more times in the grueling heat over the course of the day! my first SE asia travel nightmare. at the last stop when they tried to get us to switch buses i almost come to blows with the driver because i am telling him that there is NO WAY i am getting on another bus that may or may not involve him (and my passport). two minutes later, i have my passport, we are friends and he tries to sell me weed.
now i am in siem reap, just travelling with my canadian buddy, and this german couple we met from the island, and i got my first view of the angkor temples today. amazing!
i will try to post a few pics, but the computers are slow here...