Monday, March 16, 2009

A Month In Short

When I last wrote I was in Tha Kaek, Laos motorbiking around. After exploring that area for about four days Nolan and I headed down to Don Det, by means of a truck filled with cement bags that we picked up after visiting Wat Pu (ancient Khmer site), for a do nothing atmosphere in extreme heat.








Leaving there we head back north up to Pakse in order to rent another motorbike and head out on a week long excursion (our butts getting more comfortable with being numb).


We picked up a machete from a seller off the road toward the Bolaven Plataeu. We thought we might need one for sleeping in the forest at some point (maybe build a shelter, but that never happened).




Arriving at Tad Lo we got a room and then headed over to a waterfall to cool off. Upon arriving back at the room we discovered a lack of keys in our possession, including the room key and motorbike key. The owner at our guest house was extremely helpful and had a bucket full of keys that might work for the room. Finding one that fit the lock we examined the case for the motorbike. He called the place where we rented it and found out that they have a spare key. He knew that a tour group comes everyday from around the corner of the motorbike shop to where we were located. We managed to get the key by those means without paying anything (the other option was to put it on a bus and pay the fare of one person for them to bring it to us).




Laos is one of the most heavily bombed countries in the world. I believe it is somewhere in the vicinity of 2 million tons of bombs that America dropped in Laos ("From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance over Laos during 580,000 bombing missions - equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years. The bombing was an effort to destroy North Vietnamese supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail"- http://www.legaciesofwar.org/traveling-exhibit/history/history-bombing-laos). There are many injuries that happen when people come across unexploded bombs and certain organizations are working to educate the people on safe ways to deal with the bombs Unfortunately the metal taken from bombs can be sold for money and some people still take the risk of trying to get that metal without fully understanding the repurcusions. On the other hand some of them get turned into decorations, like this vase.




Fell in love with the way an elephant finds footing


When we had arrived in Pakse, in the morning, we had planned to get some money and leave on the motorbike by afternoon. Turns out there was a problem with the head bank and no money could be gotten from any ATM's. Nolan had some U.S. dollars and Baht with him so he exchanged that and headed out onto the plateau. After a few days we realized more money was needed and we got a bit worried about finding a place to get some (though interested in how we might acquire money by means of work if need be). We headed to Salavan, thinking it was a pretty big town and an ATM wasn't too far fetched an idea. Nope. So we had enough gas in our tank to head to Sekong by means of Nong Bua.



We traveled down a dirt road through villages with people that stopped what they were doing just to watch us drive by. Headed into a jungle like atmosphere with sounds of life and air of clarity. Somehow we made it to a main road we knew was in a certain direction from a mountain we were going around. The road we traveled on became far and away the rockiest, most pot-holed, least traveled road I had ever been on. Even though it was wider, the road itself left much much more to be desired. We arrived in Sekong well after dark and found a room. In the morning we headed to the bank and they managed to get money transfered by using one of those credit/debit machines you see at the counter of grocery stores.


Eventually we made our way to Paxong, directly on top of the plateau. The weather up there was much colder than the rest of Laos and I regretted leaving a sweater I had picked up and carried for a month (without need of) in a town in souther Laos. We got some baguettes in the morning and headed to an area that had an ancient stone and thousand year old flower (white) plants. Once at the top we ate the baguettes with some honey I had been carrying around since Bangkok. While eating we were invited to join two Thai guys going on a trek through the jungle with a guide.

Being of the adventerous sort and wanting to give opportunity to testing our machete we joined them. Saw three waterfalls and sweated more than all of them combine. Ate banana stalk soup with tomato and mackeral over rice (all thanks to those guys sharing because we had brought no food, having not planned for a trek). Drank rice whisky near a river, sat next to a fire and pretended to know how to play the harmonica, slept on banana leaves, woke up to rain at 4 in the morning, woke up with a cicada on the towel I put over my head not to have bugs on my face, hiked up a mountain taking breaks in bamboo forests, and received some Bolaven coffee from the family of our guide (I think Starbucks gets some from there). Upon leaving we decided the family had better use for the machete than we and gave it to them as a gift.
Can you spot the person?






It is at about this time that Nolan and I parted ways. He headed back into Thailand and I head on over to vietnam, by means of a very dizzying border experience. After getting in and to a town with accesss to the railway I bought a ticket to Hanoi to meet up with a couple of Danish girls I had met in Laos. I really enjoyed Hanoi and would recommend as a definite place to visit in Vietnam, if only for the food alone (though renting a bicycle is very exciting in a city with such traffic as well). From there Petrine, Solveig, and I headed over to Ha Long Bay for some cold misty weather with a bit of sea food thrown in. Though the view was not nearly as nice as it could have been we took a boat tour and once up close to the karst outcroppings saw how beautiful the area could potentiall be in a month or so.
From there we headed down to Hoi An where the girls enjoyed some tailor shops. After there we made way to Nha Trang, where I am now. Solveig and I entered a diving course and are now certified to dive up to 18 meters (60 feet). Went on a four dives for the course so far and the water and reefs have been stunning. It is exactly as you think it is with colourful fish and unusual but unique formations of coral. We get two more dives free tomorrow and the instructor is letting me use an underwater case for my camera. The case is a little big but I hope to be able to at least get a few shots of some colourful fish swimming in an ocean as clear as a summer day in Miami.
From here I plan to head down to Ho Chi Minh City and maybe dip a bit farther south before heading over to Cambodia around the 1 or 2 of April. Sorry this has taken so long and I hope all is well from wherever you read this.
Take Care!


P.S.
Exiting Kong Lo cave in central Laos
video



Letting viewers at home get a feel for the trek
video


And of course a bit of Jazz in Hanoi

video

P.S.S.

So when am I coming home and what are my plans? I must be honest in saying that I miss people but I do not miss going to school. I am still unsure of what to study and all things that entails. That being said I am registering for classes in a bit more than a week and my intented major is International Studies. What my area of concentration will be or what to do with that or if that is even for me, are still questions in the air. I have made plans in May to do a bit of farm work in Malaysia and I had made plans for doing some in Sri Lanka during June as well but all will depend on money, time, and my frame of mind.

5 comments:

  1. Adamsito !!!! I am always king of speechless for a while when I read your journal !!! You must write a book with all these wonderful and amazing experiences at such a young age ! WOW !
    Make sure you eat plenty of proteins to keep up with all the exercise you do. Be safe, enjoy this awesome opportunity and remember that we all miss you and love to hear from you.
    xoxoxo Lukie's grandma !

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  2. You are my hero man! You have know idea how often I check this page to see your progress. As always have fun and remember to have an extra sip of any beverage of your choice for your buddy back home.

    ivan

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  3. Effing Awesome. Living vicariously through your posts. What amazing adventures. Can't wait to see more pics. Take care and happy adventuring.

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  4. Oh man! I just thought you'd be interested: there's this amazing cambodian group from LA called Dengue Fever. You should check them out. Anyway, keep it real man. Peace.

    Ivan

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