Everything is haappeennnninnnnng iiiinnnn slooowww moooottttiiiiooooonnnnnnnnnnnn zzzzzz zzzzz
Wakey Wakey you have now arrived in Laos.. where people appear to do absolutely bugger all all day apart from a bit of farming when the feeling takes them! Leaving Cambodia and entering Laos was abit like crossing a magic boundary into the last century (i mean a hundred years ago and not 1999), well almost, they have playstation 2's here!
Our entry was a little on the sketchy side of things, having bought an expensive river entry ticket whereby one sails up the Mekong in a sailing boat for six before arriving at the official border which straddles the great river, we were actually bundled into a small wooden canoe as part of a guiness world record attempt for the most number of people and two backpacks to cross the Mekong on a small canoe. I'm fairly sure we got the record, but neither of us was impressed with the 300 mtr journey which left us outside of shouting range of the man who sold us our ticket! What a wanker! (apologies for the French, but this is an old Frech protectorate.. obvious by the sheer volume of odd Frenchies hanging around!). Anyway having stood dumbly on the shore for a bout 5 minutes we were herded onto a mini bus that drove about 30 mtrs up the hill and around the corner before stopping. We were told we were waitingn for 1 more and only 5 mins.. as it turned out it was an hour and we were waiting for the chief of police, so we didnt complain too much! Anyway we drove a little while untill we were dropped of by a shed in a jungle which apparently was the border, we payed the guard a dollar 'service charge'and he stamped us in. So we drove on down a little jungle track that looked ripe for an ambush untill we got to another hut with another man who also wanted a dollar so he could stamp our passports as well, so we did and we drove on through the jungle untill we got to a corner of a tarmac road in what can only be described as the middle of bloody nowhere! This apparently was our drop off point having opted not to paythe extra 20 dollars to travel 20km to the boat station from where we would get a boat yto Si Phan Don (the four thousand islands). Clearly we were being had as there was no way inhell we would get any other form of transport with the exception of a tractor lawn mower jobby towing a trailer of peasants, but seeing as it was going at crawling pace it would have been faster to walk! So dignity in shatters we agreed to the 20 dollars fee and low and behold a man with a funny truck jobby -they call a jumbo in these parts- rocked up and showed us his mobile phone which he had clearly used to set it all up from the ticket man in Cambodia and ushered us on to a bench in the back of his jumbo! So anyway to cut a long story short (ok just to finish it off then) we entered i suspect illegally into Laos and made our way to the laid back islands of the Mekong river.
Theres not an awful lot to say about these islands.. we stayed on two intotal one with electricity and one without and did pretty much nothing for three days.. we hired bikes and rode around abit and saw a bridge and a waterfall and lots of pigs and thats about it. We were besieged dail;y by thunder storms on all sides and still are now.. the nights are always lit up by about three storms and every so often it will pour down so hard it comes through the roof and through all the light fittings which alarming\ly are left on throughout! And that was it ntohing to report i'm afraid!!
But not to fear we soon moved on up the delightfully named village of chumpasack where one can see an amazing old temple built on the side of the mountain.. and what should the mountain be named.. none other than Mount Penis! Oh yes, fantastic stuff.. and it was an amazing temple and hardly anyone else around the spoil it! The highlight would have to be a> driving a motorbike to get there and b> finding a cool human sacrifice rock carved like a crocodile!! Sweet! Anyway we spent a night there and not doing much else before heading upwards to the town of Pakse which is a dull functional travel centre where you pretty much have to stay before heading up to the capital Vientiene. We decided that we would head to an area known as the Boloven Plateau where they grow Laos coffee which is apparently some of the best according to the Laos ministry of information (yes they do have a ministry of information, Laos is communist apparently only with a capitalist heart!!) . This little venture involved hiring a motorbike for 2 days and riding about 200km stopping at various waterfalls! It was awesome and I got to drive because Jennie is afraid as bikes (although not as afraid as when I told her that actually i'd never really ridden a motorbike before Marmallapuram in India and espeacially one with gears such as the mighty beast I was piloting those two days! Its not as bad as it sounds I did ride a scooter in India but only round a playground! As for the gears on our bike, well there was no clutch so it was semi automatic anyway and had 125 cc engine which isnt too small but could hardly be described as motoring giant! And we only fell off once! Hahaha, calm down parents we were going at about 3 mph and it was on awet dirt track (yep thats a road in Laos) and the only casualty was my sprained wrist from trying to hold a bikes weight and two peoples we tumbled onto the floor much to hilarity of a family who were watching nearby! Anyway I can assure you that apart from a muddy patch on Sandalls trousers and my sore wrist and the old man who crippled himself from laughing so hard there were no other casualties apart from our wallets which Sandall did a good job of emptying by booking us into a 15$ chalet with waterfall view except for the trees in thew way.. no air con and to make up for it a standing lamp which looked like they stole it from your granny!! What was she thinking! Anyway there was a nice waterfall and on our ride back we got rained on big time (cue bright orange poncho jobby) and then alamost ran out of gas (cue stopping at some random petrol station jobby which consists of a barrell and a hose and a reddy liquid which you hope is petrol), but we made it in the end!
After a sleepness night to Vientiene on a VIP bus which leaked through the light fittings when it rained, we arrived in what can only be described as the least built up, busy and generally happening place ever to be given the title of city let alone capital city! The highlight of the city being a rediculous arc de triomphe style archway made in the 60's and never properly finished constructed with of all things concrete and unpainted concrete at that!! Taj Mahal eat your heart out, a true icon of Soviet style communism! Surprisingly enbough we only stayed a night, although during that night we saw Laos first Air Guitar competition (strange) and managed to both drink oursleves silly and spend 10 dollars on raffle tickets and 5 dollars on a t shirt in aid of sending the first Laos rugby team to Cambodia for a competition.. even the ticket seller wasnt too optimistic about there chances, suggesting they could be 'çompetitive'. Still there you have it, so it was with gargantuan hangovers that we arose at 6 am the next day to head off for our 10 hour bus ride to Luang Prabang along what is without doubt the windiest road in existence.. I have never felt so ill for so long without chundering! It was a true experience with stunning scenary but I would never ever repeat it! There was a risk of banditry along the road whcih explained the reason for an ununiformed guard armed with an AK47 to be on the bus although we were never told this so cue Mulliner going into evasive action mode before hangover made death by AK47 preferable to moving too suddenly! Anyway we made it in the end and find ourseleves in an extraordinaryly beautiful place which hasnt modernised in the slightest and looks stunning everywhere you go, Luang Prabang is full of old Temples and French Colonial buildings all decaying with a style that the French can only wish they actually possess! Anyway we've seen many beautiful things like an old russian antoaircraft cannon sitting besdie a buddhist stupa and now ebing used as a merry goround by the local kids and of course yours truly!
Well thats it for me, I'm off to indulge in my to current obsessions.. Beer Lao and football... I only pray it cools down a bit in Deutchland so England can perform like the champions we know they are.. COME ON ENGLAND! ROOOOOOOOOONNNNEEEEYY