Myles Harrington

Archive for the ‘Laos’ Category

Scaring Kids With An English Bloke

In Laos on December 10, 2010 at 10:46 am

Adam, the cynical and fellow innuendo obsessed Brit and I decided to leave Luang Prabang together and develop our friendship further north in little idyllic and remote villages. The first such place was Nong Khiaw, a destination Lonely Planet describe as ‘a sleepy market village with a humbling backdrop’.

 

The humbling backdrop

Our only afternoon there involved a walk to a long and dark cave where villagers hid during the Second Indochina War. While we were there two small and innocent looking children followed us around, whispering to each other as if they were plotting some kind of hit and run mugging scam. We started to whisper too so they felt just as scared and at the chosen moment jumped out at them which made them look like they saw their lives flash before their eyes. We shook hands with them and smiled after but it was a cruel yet funny trick. Perhaps it will teach them it’s rude to whisper behind peoples’ backs.

 

The whisperers

We walked on a little further up the tarmaced road to a small village where the children only knew the English word ‘pen’. It seems like it’s quite universally known for children to know that specific word but I don’t know why. Unsurprisingly the village shop had a good stock of pens for falang to purchase, so we bought 20 and distributed accordingly with bonus sweets and the full bag was eventually swiped from us by a couple of mothers with sweet teeth.

 

The lazy Lao bulls

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Back In The Tubing

In Laos on December 5, 2010 at 9:42 am

Vang Vieng was the final stop off on Shubes’ journey and I wasn’t too disappointed to be returning to one of the legendary destinations of the South East Asia backpacker circuit. We got to it straight away, renting out the tubes and booze cruising our way down the Nam Song on our first day. Then we got a bit lazy for four days pretty much just eating, sleeping and watching TV. The Lao baguettes were a firm favourite for our diet and I can’t resist ordering the cheap noodle soup at least once a day.

On our last day we decided to do something slightly cultural and went to a cave with a beautiful blue lagoon at the bottom, stupidly we didn’t think about taking our swimming stuff so all we could do was look at it, but at least the walk there was nice.

Take it to the bridge

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The Long Haul North

In Laos on November 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm

We had one week to go from Pakse in the far south of Laos up to the capital in the north, Vientiane. Our first trip wasn’t going to get us far, from Champasak we were going to Pakse, an old French admin post just opposite Thailand across the mighty Mekong. I’d heard from fellow travellers it wasn’t a great place, with just a row of restaurants and not much else. On our first night there as we were strolling along the riverside boulevard I trod on something squishy and warm, I thought I’d be spending most of my night stinking from that point but fortunately it was just a snake. When I felt something warm I tried to tread lightly and it slithered away into the undergrowth seemingly unharmed from its 70 kilo crushing. I think I must have got its head otherwise I would probably have required a trip to the new looking Pakse A&E.

One of the reasons why people stop off in Pakse is to travel east in to the Bolaven Plateau and other remote eastern provinces. Having become a couple of waterfall hunters recently we thought we should give it another go and head out on our own wheels to see what is supposedly one of Laos’ most impressive falls just a few kilometres out-of-town. The Tat Fan falls were cool but sadly the drop was so long from our vantage point you couldn’t even see the plunge pool. The water looked like a gas as it hit the rocks half way and flowed like liquid nitrogen into the abyss. After the obligatory South East Asian noodle soup for lunch in Paksong we were back on the road on our 100cc bad boy back towards Pakse via another less impressive waterfall.

 

Yet another waterfall

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Just In The Kip Of Time

In Cambodia, Laos on November 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm

As the end of another visa approached we were at our last destination in Cambodia, Ban Lung in the Ratanakiri province. The dirt off the track for the last four hours of our journey covered everything in a think layer of red dust, just like how you’d imagine Mars to be, or a tropical Devon. On the mini bus we met a British couple who we befriended and both stayed in the Star Hotel. That evening we invited them to join us on the hotel’s balcony for a few Mekong whisky and Cokes, after that ran out we sent the girls down to try to gather more supplies from the mama who looked after the guesthouse. They came back twenty minutes later with a bottle of the Isle of Skye’s finest Talisker whisky, aged 10 years for a mere $10. That’s one great thing about Cambodia, they import all of Europe’s finest spirits through Singapore and sell them tax-free for cheaper than you can get them in the EU. Absolut, Gordon’s and Scotland’s best whiskies all for Asda smart prices, even though the $2 Mekong stuff actually tasted better.

 

 

The prince and the pauper

 

We’d arranged to be up early for a day on motorbikes with Matt and Cheryl and just as I’d finished throwing up the remains of the night before’s beef and green pepper and spirits, Matt knocked on our bedroom door. We struggled downstairs and eventually we were on the road to Ban Lung’s most spectacular natural wonder, a perfectly round crystal clear lake that the locals say was created 700,000 years ago by a meteor strike. A dip in the chilly water soon cleared the hangovers and we drove down some treacherous unsealed and slippery tracks to a couple of Rattanakiri’s other natural wonders; waterfalls. Read the rest of this entry »

Living Life Laos Style

In Laos on September 3, 2010 at 10:36 am

For once I think I actually love the French. After suffering for months with the over sweet bread of Asia it was such a nice treat to get to Laos and their beautiful baguettes. The legacy that the French left behind when they left 60 years ago. A love for good bread and Laughing Cow cheese.

A traditional Lao sandwich stall and a tiny barbers shop

We skipped the capital Vientiane as I’d heard it’s nothing special. There were some nice old buildings as we drove through but the real pretty (and party) places are further north.

Vang Vieng was the first stop off, as it is for most young Westerners. In fact there were probably more farang in town than locals. It’s the ultimate backpacker lay about paradise; cheap baguettes, traditional European home cooked meals and loads of restaurants playing Friends. The canned laughter follows you down the street as it blares out of the widescreens. The one where they go to Barbados will forever remind me of Laos. I don’t know the Lao initially ever thought everyone just wants to watch Friends all of the time. It’s bizarre. Play films and I’ll go to your bar instead!

Yay! just what I wanted in the middle of Laos. Friends series 3!

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