Permanent Vacasian

The traveller sees what he sees; the tripper sees what he has come to see. – G. K. Chesterton

The Loop

March 31, 2009
by Tina
1 Comment
3,558 views

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Rice fields around Tha Khaek.

Central Laos – The Lonely Planet described it as a great adventure with rough roads and breaking bikes and a fellow traveler  we met told us stories about learning how to say “boiled eggs without fetus” in Lao so that he could find something to eat.  It sounded wild, slightly dangerous and a whole lot of fun, it was “The Loop” and we were all for it.   We arrived at Tha Khaek in the afternoon and checked into the Tha Khaek Travel Lodge, the base for all travelers setting out on The Loop.  We rented our bike and reviewed the hotel’s guest books with helpful hints about doing The Loop and prepared to set out the next day.

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The road to Tham Pha Pa.

Our first stop was Tham Pha Pa (Buddha cave), a small cave 15 meters up a shear cliff filled with over two hundred 600 year old Buddhas, which could have been really cool if the locals had left it as it was when it was discovered in 2004 by a local fisherman chasing some bats for dinner, but they have poured a can a Velvita over it in the way of tacky flowers and what not.  Oh well.  I had to put on a Lao skirt in order to enter the cave, so that was kind of cool.

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Living La Vida in Southern Laos

March 31, 2009
by Stuart
3 Comments
3,162 views

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Sunrise Boulevard, Don Det.

Don Det, Champasak, Savannaket, Laos – We had not been in Laos long before finding ourselves lazying in hammocks, nursing fruit shakes, and realizing that even reading was too much work.

The tone was set by the speed bump of a border crossing into Laos from Cambodia marked by a wooden shack at both borders with a piece of rope draped across the road. The only rise of inflection in the border guards voice was when he mentioned the “fee” of a dollar to pass. I paid at the Cambodian shed, but when the Laos officer tried to collect the fee, I said I gave my last dollar to the other guy. Tina, not wanting a scene, punched me and said to just pay the man.

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Yummy bakery; island road, Don Det.

After being handed off more times then a ripped kip, we arrived at the boat dock for the 4,000 islands, a section of the Mekong river that fans out around lots of little islands. There aren’t literally 4,000 of them, but there are quite a few and the actual number depends on the Mekong’s mood. We stayed on Don Det, one of the more developed islands. And by “developed”, I mean that it had electricity sometimes.

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Welcome to the Jungle

March 23, 2009
by Stuart
2 Comments
2,187 views

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Chup Rubber Plantation outside Kampong Cham.

Ratanakiri Provence, Cambodia – After stopping for an afternoon and evening in Kampong Cham – a quiet town along the Mekong near some rubber plantations – we made our way north to Ben Lung hoping to do some trekking in Ratanakiri Provence. Along the way we met Kris a chatty and funny Londoner and a Scottish couple all aiming to do the same thing.

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Chaa Ong waterfall.

The drive took us up the main road north, then we cut east on a dirt road for the last few hours. The dirt was red and stained your clothes like Georgia clay back home. But this dirt went everywhere. We almost had to put on our masks inside the bus and our luggage was covered in dirt when we arrived.

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Cashews.

After checking into the Tribal Guesthouse and relaxing with a banana fruit shake, Kris, Tina and I searched around town for a reliable trekking company. We reviewed a few places and decided on Dutch Couple, the only company that seemed to have their act together. We hoped for a three-day journey, but because of timing we had to settle for a two-day and decided to leave in a couple days giving us a chance to enjoy some of the sights around Ben Lung.

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See Him Weep

March 16, 2009
by Stuart
6 Comments
3,711 views

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Sunset at Pre Rup.

Temples of Angkor, Cambodia – This was like one of those stories you could hear on This American Life – starts off normal but gets to an extreme you didn’t think possible. It’s also the kind of story that starts off all enjoyable but the longer it goes, you just want it to end. Where you start with sympathy for the protagonist, but at the end you’re like, geez, this guy is a looser. Like a Woody Allen comedy.

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Shrine and defaced lion statue at Pre Rup.

Tina and I spent the previous day visiting some of Angkor’s lesser temples – saving the major works for when Hollie and Bridget joined us in Siem Reap. So when we met up with Hollie and Bridget, we decided a guide would be a fun way to tour the temples and make it a more informative experience. But the guide we ended up with had a heartbreaker of a story. And you know how when someone gets dumped they won’t shut up about it (present company included)? That was our guide, Narin. We learned more about the history of his forbidden love then the history of the temples.

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Hell On Wheels

March 11, 2009
by Stuart
2 Comments
2,227 views

Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia – If Cambodia had a dust bowl, this was it: Anlong Veng. And I’m not talking about the  rim of the bowl. I’m talking about being down in the bottom where the crusty bits of dried cereal build up.

Anlong Veng was pretty much a no-horse town comprised of some wooden buildings crowded along a roundabout. The road we took from Siem Reap was paved, but once we hit town, the pavement ended where the buildings ended. Both of which could be seen from the center of town.

On the bus, I got talking to an American and a chatterbox of an Italian. The American was from the mid-west – the Italian from Rome – who was working for a non-profit in Phnom Penh. He spoke a little Khmer so when we got off the bus, he hooked us up with some local moto drivers to work out a deal for getting to the temple. We had talked with the Italian about joining up, thinking that the more of us there were, the better the price we could get. But when the bus dropped us off, he did the skedaddle, leaving the two of us to work it out.

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