Published: December 17th 2005December 7th 2005
Happy Holidays to all from David, Paris, Christie and Natalie!
Floating the Mekong River from China to Thailand.
We left Jinghong early in the morning in a very dirty bus with 5 other people. I slept most of the way on a hard seat as we bumped down a gravel road for 5 or 6 hours. Soon the bus was packed; some people got off and more got on. I went back to sleep.
I smelled gasoline and dirt when I got off the bus. We were in the small town of Chiang Lei on the Mekong River. We found our boat which was part tugboat/barge and put our bags on it after dragging them through 4 inches of dust. The boat had two stories. Our cabin was on the second story. There were 4 bunks in our cabin. We met the captain who was short, fat and possibly a drunk and pothead (story later). The dock workers loaded up the back of the tugboat/bargewith huge rolls of what looked like blankets and futons. This took hours.
At 6:00 o'clock we got our passports stamped from the Chinese and our boat left the port. We were followed
by another boat like ours as we headed down the very fast Mekong River. We went through lots of rapids and narrow passages, floating by jungles and river villages with Laos on one side and Myanmar on the otherside. The boat was going very fast and our captain really knew the river. We tied up to another boat for the night on a sandy beach.
I slept most of the way down the river, but my mom made me get up to see a dead cat that our crew bought off a villager on the beach. Mom said there is no way they were going to eat that. She was wrong. They skinned it, deboned it and made sausage out of what they didn't cook. We didn't eat meat that night. The skin was stretched ond left on the roof of the boat. The other boat stopped when a villager held up some dead chickens. We were on the wrong boat.
There were floating buffalo carcasses (bloated) in the river as well as the skinned wild jungle cat hanging in the galley. My dad had me take a beer to the captain and when I opened the
door to the bridge the captain had his whole face in the top of a bamboo pipe with smoke pouring out. I gave him the beer and left.
By evening of the second day, we arrived in Thailand and there was a big gold Buddha to let us know we had entered a Buddhist country. We stayed in the small town of Chiang Sean for 3 nights and then flew to Bangkok. Dad came down with Dengue Fever and he spent three bad days in bed. Breakbone Fever is what it is called because your bones hurt. I spent 7 days in Bangkok doing homework and visiting temples. Now we are in Ayuthaya and tonight we fly to Koh Sumai, an island in the south.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
There are more photos below