Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Month: December 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Sonle Lap

Means frsh water lake.
About an hours hard driving out of Siem Reap, down a dusty side road and finally some evidence that a lake was near, houses on stilts….

Lots of morning glory plants, they eat it, quite hard and stalky, I know, I have had some….
Anyway finally arrived at the lake, well the start of it, lots of waterways with quite large houses on stilts made of all sorts of things, from tarpaper to bamboo to some quite substantial wooden ones, up very high, two stories, underneath, fishing nets and fish traps made of bamboo.
Staggered onto a ramshackle boat, me , guide and 15 year driver…not a life jacket in sight…
The boat was just a wooden one but with the most caliante set up for steering and direction I have ever seen. Motor was at the rear and the boy driving just put his foot on the appropriate piece of rope , forward or reverse which ran the length of the boat,on the outside…

We rode down the waterways past all sorts of types of accommodation to the lake, which is huge, guide says has 3000 k circumference but only about five metres deep.Deeper in the rainy season and the circumference increases to about 12000 ks, I must check those figures,although you could not see any land from the entrance to the lake..

Many varieties of fish caught here, lots of little ones drying on the side of the road…covered in dust..But also saw some quite big ones being caught. Fish traps and nets are used.

There is also a lot of bird life here, saw swallows but not the pelicans which are supposed to be here. There are also crocodiles in one part….
About a thousand Vietnamese live at the entrance to the lake and mov e back to the main village when it floods…they looked very poor to me but had a floating school provided by some charity or other….
Guide says the Vietnamese control both Cambodia and Laos…..

After a little wallowing in the open water motor was restarted and we returned to the main village. I have never seen anything like it, all these houses on huge stilts, gives a new meaning to pole house…
Stopped at one of the big ones for lunch. Up a zillion damn steep stirs, had to come down backwards…why do they have such steep stairs when they are so little…..

Lunch was provided for me, brought from Siem Reap. All packed in a bamboo container, food was wrapped in banana leaves. Quite tasty, spring rolls, chicken, fish, rice and a strange collection of gelatinous deserts.

I sat in lonely splendour on the back deck, front one overlooks the water. After lunch I went snooping, amazed to see a wood cooking fire set up on bricks in the kitchen, wonder how many houses burn down….Very spacious, apparently this family do homestays…
I even tried out a hammock, easy to get into harder to get out of….

Most enjoyable sojurn.
Back to the main road and I am now in a shithole called Kompomg Thom. Gives Shandan a run for its money as most downmarket place I have ever visited….
Kompomg Thom Village Hotel is pretty bad too. Luckily I put my sheet sleeping bag in, as bottom sheet then a red blanket affair…Going to be a long hard afternoon and evening as it is now only 4 pm….
Have asked to be collected at 8 am, cannot wait to get the Sofitel…Just as well I have agood book. TV does not go, Initially neither did the internet, no power, what they really meant was they did not want turn on thier generator.

I saw a European couple making an escape by tuktuk, I would do the same but dont think there is anything around here to see, only flat terrain covered in rice paddies….

A Batty story…

Keep forgetting about this but it tickled me…On the way to Phonsavah in Laos we stopped at a village market, I was intigued by the novel method of bbqing chicken. Large concrete trough, fire underneath and a strange pulley method of rotissering, chickens looked good. I asked the guide what had the end ones been marinated in, they were hanging up with a
heap of ordinary looking chickens, they were bats of course, big buggers and quite blue.
More expensive than chicken as well….

Another nice day…

Well, there was a silly cow who tried to take over my seat at breakfast, I just shifted her stuff and smiled like a snake….

Long drive today out to Bang Meala temple built by the Angkor Wat guy but has not been maintained. Quite sad in a majestic kind of way seeing all the fallen masonry and the jungle trying to claw it back.
All of these temples were built between 900 and 1300 AD then just seem to have been abandoned, odd mutterings about the Thais…
Got another glimpse of Angkor Wat today, would like to visit it again, very impressive….

Countryside is pretty unremarkable, scrubby with rice paddies everywhere, harvest season, seems pretty meagre to me.
The other temple today was Angkor Thom, which is huge , lots of towers with big buddha faces on them AND heaving with Korean tourists who push and shove but I can elbow with the best of them when needs be. One or two at Probus are better but I manage….

Not many monks here, certainly not a visible prescence like Lao. The guide hardly mentions them, both Lao guides had been monks, both for about ten years.
Guide got on to politics today…he is quite the little democrat. Told him I may live in a democracy but I have about as much say as he does.

Petrol, well you buy it alongside the roadside in one litre bottles, Johnny Walker seems a favoured bottle. Not as expensive as ours but up there. Had a tuktuk man hit me up for a dollar to buy gas, declined….
Foreigners can buy land here, in fact it is advertised for sale by the metre. Foreigners could not buy land in Laos.

Hammocks seem to be much favoured by the Cambodians, the tuk tuk drivers hang them to the roof of their vehicles and snooze while waiting for customers and you often see people snoozing in them under houses. Houses here are built up high with an airway beneath, flooding?

The most surprising thing I have seen is the Las Vegas type Xmas decorations, no, maybe that street in Ponsonby. White painted branches dripping in lights is very favoured…
All bridges are festooned with lights, Santa is happily at play in front of hotels accompanied by reindeer….very odd!!!!

Tommorrow, a three hundred k drive to Kompong Thom in the middle of nowhere but seeing Sonle Lap , the lake on the way. Overnight in Kt then another three hundred ks to Phom Penh.

Oh yes as a nice little break today, a picnic lunch in the jungle along with a fantastic foot massage!!!You never know what is likely to happen next!!!!!

Angkor Wat

Is pretty damn stunning..
Despite their being thousands of people there. It just seems to absorb them..
Not a lot to say about it really , all been said before….
It was higher and bigger than I expected though. I did like the signature of someone unintelligible followed by the date,1890, graffiti even then….
Hot today but did not seem to dampen the tourist temple hopping ardour. Went to two more, one I have already forgotten, then to the temple which featured in the Lara Croft movie.
Heaving with people, used to geta million visitors a year now gets 2.5 million. Yes, it does have trees growing thru it, quite spectacular really.

Had a particularly pongy Cambodian soup for lunch, tasted OK but smelt like fresh cow dung.
Had fresh coconut water to drink, think that was the best part.
Most meals cost between five nd ten US. Have not changed any money as everyone accepts US plus gives change in that currency. Local currency is 4000 somethings to the US dollar.

Scenery here is not great, very flat. Countryside does not seem quite as poor as Laos.

Immediately I arrived, Ran started talking about corruption,said the roads are bad due tothe contracts being fiddled….

Vehicle of choice for tourists here seems to the tuk tuk. Tourists like me travel in Toyotas, a camry I think but quite aged. Better than a minibus
Despite my flash room breakfast is crap, think i will try local breakfasts, noodles etc…

More temples tomorrow but seventy ks away so maybe not so many people…actually only one temple, Bung Meala….

Flying and riding

After coffee with my xmas dinner companions it was finally time to leave Satri House….Farewell was most ceremonial, the receptionist, Latvian, the General Manager, Swiss, plus assorted Laos came out to say goodbye, not sure if it was relief that Iwas going or done for everyone, nice anyway.

flight took two hours to Siem Reap, noticeable difference in the landscape, FLAT!
Had filled in two forms on the plane, on arrival handed another one to fill in, lined up with that and given yet another one to fill in. By this time it was not a who can walk fastest, but who can write fastest, I was in the lead by now….
Totally unintelligble form but scribbled on it anyway…
Out!!!! Ran is my new guide, totally lacking in a sense of humour, missing dear wee Sook…

Hotel, Sokha Angkor Resort, huge place full of Chinese.
Shown my room, no way Jose, miles away over the waterfall at the end of the pool, making constant piddling imperative!!!!
No rooms said the recptionist, find one was my response.
She said to stay in the room. I did for 30 seconds then advanced on the recption desk, luckily hit the deputy manager, well not really but he knew I was serious!!!
Said I wanted to go home!!!!
Now have a two room suite on the top floor opposite the Royal suite! Much more suitable!!!!

Staggered out to a traditional dance display plus dinner.Only just managed to stay awake!!!

Good nights sleep and guess what, horse riding. Twenty years since I had been on a horse, and thirty before that…
We drove out into the country to a large stable, where I had to sign a form saying if I died it was my fault, of course!!!!

My horse, Asterix, kept trying to bite the guides horse but apart from that we had a happy couple of hours. Western saddle, horse about 12 hands high,(pony?) guides was a big bugger fromVietnam,so my pretty little cowgirl informed me.

Nice going thru the villages and rice paddies plus lots of lotus patches, many of which were dying, too hot said the guide.
Very,very skinny cows, and fat water buffalo.

After two hours I was permanently attached to the horse, made them park up by a large stone onto which I inelegantly slid..
Knees suffered the most.
The three temples visited today were built in the ninth century. Angkor Wat tomorrow. Hawkers are a pest, little kids flogging off postcards, bananas and scarves.

Hordes of people around.
Rounded off my excursion with a trip to the Old Market, full of temptations which I mainly resisted, well only two tiny things fell into my bag!!!
Hot as hell for me, about 33, my cowgirl had a jumper, a sweater and a tshirt on….they feel the cold!!!

Siem Reap is a pretty boring town, think anywhere charmless in Asia.
Found a source of cheap booze, even Hendricks is available, but at 55 us abottle I declined it

Dont think the guide here is as good as Laos as I have been left alone all pm, not that I minded but I do want a trip to the famous lake, Sonle Lap , will ask tomorrow.
Ran wears a uniform, Sook could not wait to get his badge off!!!
Frangipani here do not lose thier leaves as they do in chilly Luang Prabang. Also there are geckos here happily clik clikking away….

Two good days…

Well occasionally I can travel without moaning. Not often but now and again….
Was collected at 9 am and really today was repeat with minibus what Sook and I had done on foot the day before..
Went into a few temples, (seen one seen em all?) One was quite dfferent though with mosaic decoration on the outside, quite beautiful perched above the Mekong.
No lunch included today so offered to foot the bill and this is a tourist town so was not as good,2. expensive, still only 11 us for both of us for one course. Suggested we stick to noodle shops in future.

Back to the hotel and I was stuffed, slept away a few hours.
Then had a beer at the hotel bar, nice, outside by the pool..
Then got ready for the obligatory xmas eve dinner, Told I had to have it when making my booking, 60 us…ouch!!!

So, 6 pm, a Baci cermony, gives blessings apparently, an old guy chanted and a few women accompanied him, best part was the Gamelan orchestra.
I had pieces of string tied around my wrist, supposed to stay for three days for luck!!! Had a nice Japanese couple sitting next to me, Maggie and Yukio…
Next came traditional folk dancing, quite good but a bit too long. One free glass of wine….
So, 8 am and I proceeded to my lonely table with a setting for one, five other pairs in the library.
Two gay couples and one asked me to join them, nice of them, a Brasilian and a swiss. They live in London.They were fun and have quite high powered jobs!!!!
Food, was pretty good, fresh and deep fried spring rolls, watercress soup, duck stuffed with pork in a coconut sauce(small duck), and fish baked in a palm leaf, excellent.
Dessert was rubbish but did not need it!!!

After dinner we went out and lit huge lanterns which floated up into the sky!!! A really nice night,and as I had been dreading it, doubly good.
First xmas without T in 26 years …..

Today, I slept in and missed breakfast as I was leaving at nine am to go up the Mekong to some Buddha caves.
A nice gentle way to start the day, a two hour cruise up the river. I must admit Iam having difficulty with all the damn steep steps, Sook, is very good, he puts out his arm for me, and has even pushed me from behind a few times!!! I say to him to just think Iam his grandmother..He introduced me to some Duropeans as his Grandmother, made thier eyes widen!!!!

Anyway, the Buddha cave was more an opening in a cliff, Climbed more damn steps, huffed and puffed but made it up 250..
Once a year locals bring statues of buddha to the cave, there Are thousands of them, from minute and crumbling to about 1.2 m high!!!!
Hordes of tourists, all two or three to a boat, mine only had me, but would seat about twenty…I waved royally from time to time…

Lunch, well what a treat and what a surprise!!!!!
We landed on the riverbank, nothing in sight but a shelter and a portable sawmill making mincemeat of teak logs….
We went to the shelter and wow! what a meal.
A green sort of soup, well green vegies in a stock with little chicken dumplings. Sticky rice, fried pork, more yummy fish with loads of dill cooked in a plam leaf, green mango salad and a chicken dish with more greens.
Golly it was good, realised it was my Christmas lunch….
Fabulous!!!! Just me and Sook and think T was hovering around somewhere..

Anyway, back across the river, into the minibus for a 65 k bouncy rideback to Luang Parang and a bit beyond to a fabulous cascading waterfall.
Hordes of toursits but worth a look. Must be limestone and the pools made by the waterfall were very blue like Lake Tekapo

Back to Lp, a little therapy in the night market but Sook just does not get shopping!!!
Supposed to go out with my dinner dates from last night but never got back till 6.30. No need for dinner really after that great lunch, so will finish off the duty free and watch a movie. Have an elephant back in the room upstairs so put the news on loud!!!!

Loads of new utes around, wonder who owns them. None as old as our old Datsun!!!!
Also, the dogs fasinate me, not at all the usual mangy mutts, some are quite woolly, almost like the designer labradoodles. French settlers brought poodles maybe?
Some look like a cross between a Jack Fussell and a beagle. The poor old cats just look mangy and unloved.

Have really enjoyed Laos, despite the chill in Phonsavanh and the cold here each am, thank heavens for the shawl and the last minute inclusion of a Khatmandu jumper. And, socks and sandles are the new fashion look …

Nice day…

After a ridiculously cold start, guests huddled all over the place with odd assortments of clothing on, all bemoaning the cold,it turned out sunny by about 11 am .
Sook collected me and proceeded to walk the socks off me. Went from one end of town to the other and across a rickety bamboo bridge over a Mekong tributary before walking me back.Took about four hours….

Town is very attractjuve, lot of houses in French Provincial style and seems quite prosperous. Lotsa shops but seemed a bit like shopping with Nik, Sook is young and has no understanding of the female need to “look”.

A lot of young backpackers here and older hippy type tourists.
Satri House where I am staying has none of those….all well dressed Europeans and one English wide boy who spends his time doing deals on the phone. Wonder if there is anyone on the other end….

The reward for crossing the rickety swing bridge, a few heart stopping moments when I wondered if I would have a panic attack, was SILK SHOPS…
Yes, across the river in a particulalrly unappealing village was all the local silk shops. Expensive though, silk by the metre here was 25 dollars us in Vientiane it was13 !!!!
Quality seemed the same.

Bought a little silk, well how could I not after crosssing the river…..

Noodle soup for lunch then back to the hotel for a nod.
Dinner was over by seven, book was finished so damn it I asked for a tv!!!!
Have to request them…..
Chatted to the Latvian receptionist and found out the plans for Christmas Eve, think I will put my head under the covers!!!!
Drinks, traditional dancing then I am seated in the library at a table on my own with five other couples at their tables, whoopee!!!! I asked why not all together, she said people moan!!!!
At least there is fire in the library, bit smokey though.

This morning I got up at 5.30 and went down to the corner near here where the monks pass by to get their daily food.
About eight women were gathered, kneeling on the road with baskets of food, they had sashes around their shoulders and think it signified they had a son a monk. Along came the monks and f ood was handed out to each one from the mothers, all got a bit of everyones, I took some bananas….
The monks are silent, the mothers chant and give the food, the monks move off and the mums go home!!!!

Boat riding today and supposedly another damn cave…then this evenings treat is 340 step climb to the top of a nearby mountain to catch the sunset and the view…Think I may give it a miss….camera does not do panoramic seems a good excuse….


Obviously my word of the moment!
After a breakfast ,served by the two hovering boys from the night before. Yes, they hovered over me all thru dinner, watched every mouthful, weird, told them to go and do something more interesting, they just looked embarrassed….Owner? manager? treats the pair like dogs, snarls instructions at them…
One other couple , Laotian at breakfast looking as miserable and cold as me and obviously departing.
Guide arrived, asked how I was, I replied fine as long as I get out of here. Totally over his head and he started explaining our day, I stopped him and told him what was going to happen. One site only , there are three sites that make up the Plain of Jars all some distance from each other, THEN we are going to Luang Prabang!
He spluttered a bit, told him I was packed and to go get my bag and make a phone call, but I know there are rooms available so let us make tracks!!!!!!

We made tracks!!!! Cost me an extra night at an exhorbitant rate, actually it was the same rate as the net. Think the bunk house was minimal so lost nothing there….

Plain of Jars, well first surprise was the sign with a small silver fern on saying the NZ govt supports this place, do we?
Then a new visitor information centre opened by our GG last year, paid for by us!!!! Bet he flew in!!!! A small apologjy perhaps for our participation in the secret war?

Anyway, the jars are stunning, look like concrete and some stand 2.5 metres tall with a circumference of at least that tapering top and bottom. Hole in the top about 1 m wide. Only saw one with a lid! Must be over a hundred at this site. There are trenches here too where fighting took place and a couple of large bomb craters, about 15 m diameter, big bomb.

Only a few tourists about and the area is quite bleak, not many trees. Jars are a source of mystery as to what they were used for, at least two thousand years old. Some suggest burial chambers others say whiskey was stored in them, we will never know.
David, this will amuse you, there was Japanese couple adding to a mound of stones a la Camino, I resisted!!!!!

So off we went retracing the last 170 ks from the day before, up, down and around, drove along some stunning ridges….
They do not madly use their horns, just a discreet beep beep.
Traffic mainly, trucks and scooters. Saw a group of about twenty Europeans on big bikes. Saw a few mad Europeans on cycles, but no gear so obviously a support vehicle somewhere..

Saw a very nasty accident not far from Luang Prabang, upturned truck in a ditch, still smoking, driver in cab, dead I think. They carry huge loads and topple on the bends….
Mr Suk who had been obviously been getting tired and was driving faster, slowed down quite noticeably.
Last 110 ks from the point known as the junction as the roads from Phonsavanh, Vang and Luang Prabang meet there, seemed to take forever.
Finally arrived, at the hotel, LP looks quite interesting, a UNESCO protected town. Hotel very smart, no bath in my room and I wanted one!!! So paid thru the nose and am now in a very spacious suite with a bathroom and a shower room!!!!
Dinner was fine, guests mainly French, Have an elephant thumping around me in the room above,now 8 am been tramping since 6 am!!!!

This place is pretentious you have to request a tv, I am going to as sound rises, and anyway I like CNN and movies!!!
Hurrah, just heard a departure down the stairs!!!!

Saw loads of toi tois on the way here, plus coreopsis…along with the usual lantana etc…

Also saw one of the poorest living sites ever, thatched huts, open drains, wallowing pigs, scrawny chickens and dogs….
Nobody in that village with American relations.

Oh yes, you are heavily fined if a non Laotian is caught having a realtionship with a Laotian!!!!!

Enjoying the food, the innards are behaving, no bread, no dairy!!!!Just beer!!!!
Warmer here and just a bit of gentle temple hopping on foot today.

Lucked out….

Am sitting in bed under a blanket, two duvets, mit socks, jumper and the shawl (great!!!) and still damn cold!!!!
I am in Phonsavanh which is the jump off point to visit the Plain of Jars, which currently I give not a jot about!!!
The accommodation I am in is very similar to one of the Raglan bunk houses we had years ago, just as many draughty spaces between windows, floor planks etc, get the picture!!!!!
There is a collection of these shacks and a dining area, called Aubergue de Plannes des Jarres. Do not include it in your holiday bookings. Think I am the only mug here!!!!!
Read the visitors book,mlast two entries echoed my sentiments!!!!

Unfortunately it seems like the rest of the accommodation in this area is very similar.

Anyway, the long long drive here, seven hours was interesting, to begin with. Very mountainous, I felt like I had been over all of Nz’s major passes in one day and after no roadworks had been done for twenty years.
This area is populated by the H’Mongs, an ethnic group which is as far as I can tell Chinese in origin, out of Yunnan province in the 18th century.

They supported the Americans in what theycall here(and elsewhere?) The Secret War. Many went to USA after 1975 , those that stayed were sent off to be reeduacated yeah, sure!!!
They live along the road in very basic villages, some just woven bamboo with earth floors, some teak and the odd concrete house.
Went into one village and peeped inside, one large room, sleeping area divided off, rest is living, storing of motorbikes, cooking on an open fire. Area would be no more than 50 square metres, many are less….Larger villages have schools.
Subsistence living off various crops, oranges at present, but they also grow rice and pineapples. Not near here though too damn cold.

Not many tourists about, only a few other minivans about, they seem to be the mode de jour for tourists.
Stopped in a village where they were playing a traditional ball game, we would simply call it “catch”. They all line up and throw a ball to each other. Even littlies can catch one handed.
Of course I had a go, managed one one handed number…

It is not just put on for toursits sa it all the way along in villages. Some of the females, small children and adults were also dressed in traditional costume, very bright colours,long skirts, but some were short , with a very colourful embroidered and beaded vest over a black blouse. Topoed off by quite mad hats with colored fur….

Stopped for lunch at a local cafe, noodle soup, not bad.

Have told the guide I am not a happy camper and my plan for today is to visit one of the three sites of the Jars then skedaddle to Luang Prabang about 280 ks away a day early.
Be interesting to see how it pans out. Last night there were still rooms available at the hotel there, looks fab, even fabber after here!!!!
Dinner was Ok, and sitting right on top of the fire I was almost warm!!!!!

Vang Vieng

Is a town best avoided if you are over fifty and it is a a friday or a Saturday…..
Trip here was pleasant, though long, left Vientiane at 8.45 and got here at 2.30.
Vientiane stretches for miles out into the countryside until gradually it just stops. Lots of very very small rice paddies but not much other agriculture until we hit the hills then there were rubber trees.
Went off the beaten path to see some buddhas deep in the jungle, five of them in relief, two were quite big, about three metres high. Date back to the 16C apparently.
Gate in was locked so had to climb thru a barbed wire fence, fun!!!!
Lunch was at a township built on a hydro lake, quite pretty, high up in the hills. Main industry is fish, dried, salted whatever. We had a fish soup for lunch , not as good as the one I had in Vientiane, noticed the driver had an omelette and vegie, will watch what he eats in future.
Went over quite ahigh pass with driver passing everything but he is reasonably cautious. BUT when there is nothing in front he goes slow.

A couple more hours of jungle and we arrived in Vang. Reminded me a lot of Guilin in southern China, same limestone pinnacles and pretty slightly misty scenery.

Attraction here is the river, which is wide and shallow, people kayak down it and float down it on rubber tubes….
Used to be a party river but too many got drowned now there are only a few bars.
Town is full if backpackers, not much in the town just caters for tourists
Climbed a zillion steps up to a cave whose main point of interest to me is was that it was hiding place for the Pathet Lao..No more caves I told the guide, they do not do it to me.
Back down and a quick trip up the river to look at the kayakers etc up close and personal, It was fun really, a flat bottomed Thai style rat tailed boat. Getting in and out was less then elegant.

Finally rid of the guide and driver I have Sook and Suk, more fun….
About 5.30 pm the noise started, a head banger band a few hotels away…They may as well have been in my room.
Asked for a different room on other side of resort, full of course. But they did ring and complain, noise went from nine decibels to seven and continued until 11 when the police can shut them down. Then they all yahooed for at least an hour.

See why I said do not come here if under fifty!!!!
Pity as the resort is nice, meal was a bit average but nice surroundings on the terrace looking at the river…
Today another journey, longer this time , to the Plain of Jars.
Still in the mini bus, just me.
Sook and Suk and I have little battles over the aircon…..

Vientiene, day two

Was as nice in its own way as day one.
After a very leisurely start, I set off down the road and around the corner to the Morning Market. Big building that houses a huge number of small traders, two floors of activity but more floors that seem to be blocked off.
Two floors was enough for me! One floor was all jewellery.
Pig in the proverbial, I tried on all sorts of things in the end bought a tiny bit of gold adornment. Whether it is real or fale who knows!!!!
Paying for it was interesting, first rule of thumb is never ket your card out of your sight, mine vanished with me squawking, young man feom adjoing stall comes over, dont worry was his response girl, who was sent away with card, is just looking for somebody with connection.
Girl eventually comes back, nothing doing, she takes me downstairs to an ATM machine, we both look at it blankly, then she takes me to a fabulous silk shop, YES! they have the magic connection. I duly enter my pin and get my slip.
As I left the stall where I bought the gold, it was handed to me…..

All this took over an hour…I had a good look around the silk shop, not cheap but very reasonable compared to what we pay. Had done enough retail therapy for one day.
But I did find a supermarket and am now a happy camper as I have almonds in bulk and kit kat in small supply….
Got a tuk tuk back to the hotel, 20,000 kip was the request, I knew it should be ten, naughty boy I said and gave him ten, he grinned!!!!

Guess what I had for lunch.

Had a snooze and a read, then went down to watch the sunset over the Mekong. Only about five minutes away, no need to even go around a corner just straight down the street.
The street along the river is closed to traffic at 4.30 and the locals jog, walk, play badminton etc in the park and on the road. The sun goes down in the industrial haze on the Thai side of the river about 5.45 pm.

I walked back to the hotel stopping for a Lao beer on the way, one dollar fifty for a 650 ml bittle, I drank it all!
Back to the hotel for a Lao meal called Labh, hot spicey minced chicken with greens, very tasty, eight dollars .
Would have been cheaper on the street but no obsequiousness there…
A really nice day. Climate is good at the moment, about 24 with a slight drop at night. Think the night drop will change as I go north. Laos live on the street as in most of Asia, the electrcs hang in great clumps, the cars park on the footpath and pedestrians walk on the road….Lots of big Remuera tractors about….

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