Published: March 31st 2009March 31st 2009
kids were on a lunchbreak, but there were plenty of chickens walking through the classroom!
I spent a night in Pakse which was a pretty boring little dusty town and then headed out to check out the sites along a plateau along town. We saw a few waterfalls, some villages (including one that makes coffins), a tea plantation and some other things. It wasn't all that spectacular of a day, although the waterfalls were pretty nice and I did enjoy swimming in them.
The next morning I went to the 4,000 islands which was great! I took a few hour bus and then hopped on a boat. I arrived and found a little guest house that was run by 'mama' who turned out to be insane! It was located right on the river and had tons of hammocks to just veg out on! The islands were so nice because although there were a ton of guesthouses, their were not a whole lot of tourists and you swim and hang out with the locals. The big thing to do was go tubing, which pretty much was just renting a tube and floating down the river. Many times little kids would come up to you and try to splash or dunk you-they were so cute! The island
fun place for swimming!
next to Don Det (the one I stayed on) had a big waterfall and since it was connected by a bridge (the one thing that the French actually built in Laos), I was told it wasn't very far and that I could run there. One morning I awoke to go for a run and kept thinking I was messing up because it seemed SO far away! I ended up making it to the falls, which turned out to be more like rapids, but were very cool. I ended up partially walking back because it was so hot and I felt like I couldn't run all the way and then later found out that it was over 10 miles round trip! no wonder it was so hard!! Luckily I was able to head back and lounge on a hammock for the rest of the day!
Each night, I would go out to dinner with whoever was around and then we would all go to the Reggae bar for drinks and then head down to the beach. It was a really lazy life, but it was great! I also rented a bike one day and explored the islands. It was one
of those places where everything is based on the river. The locals would wash in the river, cook using river water, swim in the river, fish, wash the pigs in the river and whatever else you could do in a river. I did have a shower, but I am pretty sure it probably was river water. The island only had electricity for a few hours each night when the generator kicked on...it was a pretty simple life but I loved it!
In general, Laos is really slow-paced and laid back. It has made me remember how American (and especially Jersey) I am!! Trying to change some money yesterday, the girl took forever cause she just moved so slowly!! And it is a huge change from other countries-it is almost like people can't be bothered to try to get your business. They must be able to sustain themselves without a lot of business becuase the restaurants, stores and guesthouses dont try very hard (or at all) to get your business. You will have to go out of your way in order to get a place or some food. It is annoying at times, but is a nice change from everywhere
else where people harass you to eat in their restaurant, use their motorbike or go in their tuk tuk.
I left the islands yesterday and headed back to Pakse. Jen (American who has been teaching in Thailand for the past 5 months, but previously lived in Hermosa Beach) headed up to central Laos becuase we had heard about some good caves and trekking and stuff. We had been told the bus would be 4 hours by some people and 6 by others. It ended up being 6 hours of freezing cold, loud Laos music fun. Luckily we were each able to get a row to ourselves so we could lie down in our seats which we had to climb over 'fragile' boxes to get to, but the music was so loud it was impossible to sleep (or even hear my ipod). We arrived at our destination (after many stops where they throw sticks of whole cooked chickens and rats at you) at about midnight. I had switched seats at one point and my shoes were at the first seat and there were 2 sleeping kids sitting there. I was just going to sacrifice them, but then someone started to
view from my tube!
help me look and it turned into a huge production of taking the seat apart and making everyone move. They found one shoe and then I gave up because I felt bad for the kids who were moved and so I got off the bus and then was chased after by the bus guy with my other shoe. It was very nice of them, especially considering that they are super crappy flip flops!
We then got some snacks because we were starved and the girl was either really confused on her English numbers, or was trying to charge me $10 for a bag of chips! I either bargained her down to abot $2 or she really didnt know her numbers (I think it was the latter). We then found a tuk tuk to take us to a guesthouse, and he was trying to charge us $10 each which was ridiculous for the distance it would be. Someone else came over and said a different amount and he agreed. We are pretty sure that he was either drunk or also did not know his English numbers. We ended up paying just under 5 dollars total which is completely different than
We arrived at the guesthouse and had to wake up the workers and got a room. Even though I was so tired, I was also too awake and was unable to fall asleep until this morning. We had some leftover snacks and I am always slightly paranoid about keeping food in the room because of my critter phobia. This place didn't seem like it would be a problem, so I just stuck them on a table away from the beds. While trying to fall asleep, I kept hearing plastic rattly noises and kept convincing myself it was something scary. I kept sitting up and shining my flashlight around the room and ofcourse there was nothing there. I was just being completely paranoid! I knew that, but still had trouble falling asleep! I ended up falling asleep in the morning and we were able to sleep in.
Today we tried to figure out about different trekking options as we had originally planned to go to this one giant cave where you can take a boat through it for 7km, but we learned that the bus going right there only leaves early in the morning we wouldve missed it) or we can take a few buses and tuk tuks to get there. It would also be challenging to get away from there so we ended up booking a trek from here. It is 2 days and we will do a homestay tomorrow night which should be great! Apparently, Laos has figured out these treks better than many other places that they employ local village people as guides (who have other jobs within the villages) and only allow a certain amount of tourists over a period of time in order to not affect the local culture or create a dependency on tourism. I am looking forward to it and will let you all know how it is whenever I can again find decent internet!
And Amy...happy almost birthday!!!!! Luv ya!!!