Bangkok, Cambodia and Laos
08.07.2012 - 09.07.2012
Following our night on Dhon Khong island, we headed to the mountain temple of Vat Phu, which is built on a hill that is below a mountain that resembles the shape of a penis, so it is basically a celebration of this. We climbed up the 77 steps to the top of the temple, and from which the view was pretty amazing.
On the way back down we got caught in monsoon rain. Unlike the rather gentle rain on the bike ride the day before, this was true monsoon rain, and we had no cover to wait it out under. Therefore we walked through the rain and mud puddles absolutely soaked. This was not that great since we were heading to our home stay on an island, and we're unlikely to have a hot shower waiting for us.
After sitting around for an hour or so in wet clothes and waiting for the current to slow on the Mekong so we could cross it 'safely', we caught our boat across to Dong Deng island for our home stay. Whilst the current may have slowed, it could hardly be described as a safe journey considering our two guides spent the time bailing water out of the boat and one then tried to plug the leak with his finger. But we arrived in tact and headed into the village for our home stay, which I ended up staying in the home of the village chief, sleeping on a thin mattress on the floor under a mosquito net, in a house which has no doors.
We changed into some dry clothes, and spent some time with the kids at our house. Dinner was served at another family house and was unbelievably good. The two meals we have had with local families have by far been the best food we have eaten. Sleeping to the sounds of crickets, insects and our host snoring, we were woken up at 3.30 by roosters.
Finally we rose early to make an offering to the local monks, before wandering the island for an hour or so before heading off. On the way to the airport we stopped off at the giant Buddha, then caught out flight to Luang Prabang, where we all rushed for a hot shower upon arrival. We are here for 3 days which is nice after the single nights of the past few stops.
07.07.2012 - 07.07.2012
Yesterday we left Cambodia (the Kingdom) and headed for the Laos border. The journey was only about 100km, but it took about 4 hrs due to the state of the roads. There were a few tricky spots for our driver where we nearly got bogged a couple of times in the mud, but we managed to get through with the road workers happily watching on and laughing at us nearly getting stuck. I have to admit that there was at least a small part of me that wanted us to get bogged and have to push the bus out, but not to be.
Over the border, we stopped off at some waterfalls on the Mekong river. Whilst not high falls, there is a massive volume of water that rushes through the rocks, and seeing fisherman (and children) in amongst the rocks attempting to catch fish in there is pretty crazy, even for me.
We then caught a ferry across to Dhon Kong island, or as I like to call it Dhon-key Kong island, have not seen any monkeys or gorillas though. Whilst waiting for the ferry I completed a trifecta of sampling insects, and this time ate a jungle ant. It was quite tasty and is my favourite insect I have eaten.
The island is one of the most beautiful spots we have been too, very peaceful. We hired some bikes and went for a ride to the island markets, through the rain which was really nice. We cycled past rice paddys and water buffaloes, and lots of friendly locals. For the return journey a couple of us grabbed a six pack of beer and drank them on the ride home.
Today we head off the island to a family home stay for the night. Will catch up with posting photos after we arrive in Luang Prabang where we will next have internet.