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04 January 2006

trying to pull you in

mekong.jpg

up early for breakfast in the tiny village of pakbeng on the mekong. ded would only agree to eat this spider for 20k kip if he was able to cook it. and if i'd been stying longer he'd have cooked up a large pot of the local creatures. i told him i'd be back to sample the delicasies.

the same same but different boat didn't leave until around 1045 after a horribly long wait for the unknown and i was already sore. more muddy water. more grey rocks. more green jungle. but everything was just a bit more exaggerated today. some amazing steep cliffs on our right which plunged coldly into the water reminded me of my four day hurtigrute ride along the norwegian coast. truly beautiful. elaine introduced me to sudoku which helped pass a few hours; i completed the first level 5 in record time. impatience got the better of me on the second.

the boat slid up beside luang prabang around 1800. with light quickly fading, a boat packed with travelers all ready to storm the city in search of accomodation. [yes, that was a sentence _fragment_.] the guesthouse search still makes me anxious and then once a room has been found all of the feeling disappears. we followed a guesthouse tout up the ramp and were ready to check out his rooms until he told us we'd need to pay for a tuk tuk ride to get there. blah. we turned down offers for other tuk tuks at the top of the ramp. i'd looked at the city map in my guidebook but sam was more certain that the city was small enough to easily walk to the center. the crew which had grown close on the slow boat from huay xai had scattered and i followed sam and rhia to the phousi guesthouse. a sweet soft spoken woman led me from phousi 1 to phousi 3 to a seven dollar room. and the feeling disappeared.

i made plans with sam and rhia to meet at the guesthouse in about 45 minutes and then went out on a mission to find a bank to attempt the exchange, all were closed and i'd need to wait until the morning. the sun had fallen and the main street was lit by the lamps of a long line of vendors selling silk and crafts and shirts and food. all kneeling on the ground, some with sleeping babies, some men sitting on stools, all so patiently, none trying to pull you in, mostly just patiently sitting and waiting. narrow lanes and i walked on for a bit and then turned back and beyond, the main street filled with restaurants and travel agencies and internet cafes, catering to the tourists arriving daily by boat and bus. the darkness prevented seeing the full setting of the city.

back to the phousi, i met sam and rhia and we returned to the street for dinner. a young girl tried to sell me bracelets and i smiled and told her no thank you... she continued to come back and smile and joke with us. this was so far from a hard persistent sell that i couldn't help but smile and joke with her each time she came back even though she was interrupting our conversation. small differences from thailand, but similarly the people seemed so quiet and calm and soft and satisfied. it's common to take your shoes off before entering any type of residence, the guesthouses for example... and for some reason i didn't have a problem with it here... i didn't have the same annoyed feeling i had in the hostel in stockholm... the surroundings and people had such a powerful soothing effect.

i ran into the rest of the crew on the way back to the guesthouse and we all made plans to meet up at 2000 the following day for dinner. four days of solid transport had taken its toll and i slept well in the clean room.

posted by paul on Wed 04 Jan 2006 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

comments

Hi Paul,

Loving your travel blog! We are planning to do exactly the same trip from Chiang Khong, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos this weekend (FEB 2006) and have found your blog very interesting and extremely helpful!

We shall keep an eye on your travels!

Happy Wandering!

Lindsey and Ric

posted by Lindsey and Ric on Sat 11 Feb 2006 at 00:16:51 est (-05:00)

lindsey and ric: so happy that my blog was helpful. you're going to have an amazing time in laos... such an amazing country with beautiful friendly people. let me know if i can help with any questions!

posted by paul recon on Sat 11 Feb 2006 at 12:22:28 est (-05:00)

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