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Published: March 1st 2007
after a hard day's work on a cob brick building at the organic farm outside of Vang Vieng, Laos
Hello to all,
Your favorite overseas writer is back for one more blog entry (it was my turn, actually, but oliver stole in and wrote it while i was otherwise occupied). Dorien will inevitably write her witty little comments as she tends to, so if the blog is confusing and hard to follow we can all collectively blame her. We are in Vang Vien, be we like to think of it as a mini Las Vegas. A walk through the main strip (300 yards) will over whelm your senses with flashy lights, the sounds of college kids taking getting drunk, and worst of all the piercing sounds of a laughing track from none other then the TV show FRIENDS!. Perhaps a little too loudly I verbalized my disgust and walked across the street and to my bewilderness found the same thing. Another bar completely packed with young minds in one of the most beatiful places in loa all tuned in to one of the most rediculouse and mind numbing TV shows ever aired...........and for soooo bloody long. Down the street yet another bar. All day every day they play re-runs of friends. Never before have a worried soo much about
Part of the Ramayana we saw performed in Luang Prabang
the future of my generation......................... Before i get too worked up i will move on. Not a whole lot to write about in Luang Prabang. We met up Derik and Paula (the Kiwis) again and Neil. We went to some neat caves and saw the local sights but not much more to say than that. Put in some good resting time before jumping on a local bus and endoured the seven hour bus ride south to Vang Vien where we spent four days working on an organic farm. I don't believe that the local workers were too used to any of the volunteers doing all that much work because after the first day they became very friendly. Joining us in the evenings for swims in the Nam Song river and a beer Loa....or two.....or three. Derik adn Paula got to the farm a day earlier and worked with us on building the grain and Goat cheese storage hut. It was all made from Mud bricks. The mortar was made in a shallow pit where we all removed our shoes and jumped in, mixing the combination of clay, straw, rice husks, sand and water with our feet. After a good amount
of time the mud was ready and we started our work. (this is basically cob construction...I (dorien) also scrubbed and painted the outside of a bath house, planted mulberry trees, and fed baby goats. their lactating adults aren't providing enough milk, so i spent some time on the internet talking to my mom and doing research and worked up a plan of different foods to introduce to increase their milk supply).
The four of us did give into on of the more common touristic things to do here. For 4 dollars (which is a lot) you rent intertubes and they take you up stream and drop you off at the Nam song. The entire day is spent floating down the river stopping off at the numerous bamboo structure they call bars and drinking beer loa. Each one outfitted with a large rope swing or zip line. Some of them are a few stories high. At each stop you chat with the other tubers and try and show up the person trying anew trick off the swing. Of course with my incondescent skin i recieved a decent burn, Dorien fared better. We also visited some other caves one of which
most of the caves had a Buddha statue near the entrance
was very cool. We went without a tour (since the tours don't take you all the way into the caves) and walked 2.5 miles inside this cave, crawling on our hands and knees in some places and in other places the caves opened up into large caverns big enough for a large house to reside in . We had heard that there was a lake at the end and we were determined to reach it....which we did and of course went swimming, all by flash light. Tomorrow morning we get back on a bus for three hours and head to the capital, Vientiane. Our Visas are almost out and we have so much more to see here.
Due to our general laziness, I (that is, dorien) am finishing the blog in Vientiene. Two days ago (Feb 27) Oliver and I passed our official half way point. Oliver has been sick for a couple of days, as in really very much quite sick, so we spent what was supposed to be our celebration night in our room in the guesthouse listening to the fan whack-whack on the ceiling.
But yesterday, he was able to drag himself out enough to go
us all ready to go at the cave entrance.
to the most blessed of foreigner temples, the mini-market on main street Vientiene, where we spent an outrageous 12 dollars on cheese and chocolate, hard to find commodities here (i'll go back tmrw for the peanut butter).
We also compiled a quick synopsis of our trip, which i will recount here for our amusement.
-Mangos and pomellos (giant, sweet grapefruit), peeled and sliced on the streets in Luang Prabang
-Curries in Thailand (green being our favorite, with an especially good red curry in Pai)
-Peanut butter and banana sandwich in Chiang Rai, Thailand (one of my favorite foods ever, and it was actually on the menu. for once i didn't have to chew up a bunch of peanuts, take a bite of bread, and pretend...)
-Grilled whole fish from the Mekong, stuffed with lemon grass (street food, Luang Prabang)
-Grilled chicken on bamboo skewers, having sat a good number of hours on the grill and thus particularly smokey and delicious. on the streets everywhere (much to oliver's delight)
-Spicy tofu and vegetable soup with sticky rice, in Vang Vieng
everything that has made us sick::
-stewed green beans on the
Hole in cave
apparently many stupid falang (such as ourselves) going through the caves without a guide (such as ourselves) have fallen into this hole and been very seriously hurt
trek in Muang Sing (oliver got sick from this one-i was still too sick (see below) to eat this particular delicacy)
-chicken buger in Pai, Thailand (oliver again)
-Indian curry with mutton, in Vang Vieng (oliver, yet again. and he is still sick from this one, though it might not be food poisoning this time)
-sticky rice with mangos and coconut milk (so innocuous sounding...this is the one that got me sick right before our trek in Muang Sing)
but what has to take the prize for worst meal was the noodle soup we had in Xieng Kok. oliver, derek, paula and I were starving, and the only place we could get food was down the street. we got a pretty disgusting noodle soup, with a large sprinkling of human hair and some ants for protein. derek kept watch on the door to see if the woman would come back out. oliver ferried the soup to paula through the window, where she poured it down the drain so the woman wouldnt see, and i divied out the rest of the soup to make it look like we had all just finished it. afterward, still ravenous, we went to a
in the lake at the end of the cave
snack stand and got a package of cookies that had sat out in the sun and gone rancid.
-the little village at the end of our trek in Muang Sing, looking into mountains of china after a 6 hr hike along a tiny, seasonal mud path through the jungle. probably the only time we'll really be nowhere on our whole trip.
-the Mekong River shooting through rock walls between Burma and Loas in Xieng Kok
-Treking in thailand along a little stream winding it's away among boulders and spots of sun filtering through the jungle.
-The drive to Pai in Thailand
-the main strip in Vang Vieng at night, filled with neon lights and, from somewhere (shudder) the laughing track to Friends
-the toilet bowl at 3 in the morning. again.
-5,000 kip (50 cents) per plate vegetarian buffet on a side street of Luang Prabang
Most Expensive Meal:
-124,000 kip ($12.40) on swiss goat cheese, new zealand cheddar cheese, a cadbury's chocolate bar, and a loaf of sesame bread.
Cheapest Nights Stay:
-20,000 kip ($2) in Xieng Kok,
Oli at cave lake
a much deserved rinse off after climbing over rocks and crawling on our hands and knees through mud for an hour. and oliver's whiteness is really only from the flash. i promise.
and 100 baht ($3) in Thailand for a 'shared room' (our roommates being of the multi-legged variety)
Most Expensive Nights Stay:
-$6, not uncommon for us, though mostly due to laziness.
Anyway, oliver and I are our hoping to leave our lotus-eating lifestyle and plan to make an honest attempt at getting a boat tomorrow to do a little float for a few days. We came very close to getting one in Luang Prabang, but heard some dodgy things about the river, particularly because it was three days float to the next village from there, and there was an outbreak of fighting among the Hmong villagers in the area (and, as many people guess, the government). On the busride south of Luang Prabang we saw occasional groups of armed people standing around (or sleeping) on the side of the road, and one of the porters on our bus had an AK47. but no one else seemed to care, and we were quite safe, being neither Hmong nor part of the government.
Oliver and I will be sure to send an update on our boat trip. Talk to you then!
oh, most of the pictures
This river flows out of the cave, you can follow the ropes about 50 meters in up the river and under the low ceiling
are olivers because i can't be bothered to download, resize, and upload mine. some are also derek/paula's. mine are similar, only better (of course).
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