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Six years of adventure with pics to prove it.

Roadside through Laos

Filed under: Laos,Photos,SEA — she_travels at 1:24 pm on Thursday, February 19, 2009

Silly, me, I thought I could zip south of Savannakhet to a town called Paske then hop east  landing in  Vietnam. I was wrong.  I had to go back to Savannakhet for bus to Hue. Oops.

The good news is I was told to board one of the “local” buses. Have a peek at these.

The bus stations in Laos are similar.  These ladies are all selling some kind of “finger food”, most of it wrapped in banana leaves.

The buses called local are not so much on the pleasant experience list. Adventure, you bet, pleasant, not a chance. The bus is chock a block full of people, stuff and some sort of crop in the top. See the motor bike on the roof?

When ya look closer ya see the reason for two doors, blocking the front path back is all kinds of stuff including a motor bike .  The bus I was on looked exactly like this, minus the motor bike. Our path to the front was full of large sakes of some kind of grain, may have been rice, may have been seed for planting.

One of the buses I was on was so full of people, the guy taking money broke out step stools to put in the walk way for sitting place. Wacky sorta place this is. Safety is not so much a concern in this part of the world.

One of the many things ya hear about Asia is the street food. When traveling the food stalls come to you. The bus would stop just long enough for people, mostly ladies, some times children,  to board. They would walk the isle with every thing from chicken and beef, to crickets and about any kind of beverage you wanted. When the driver saw another bus coming he stopped, the ladies would get off, run across the road and hop on the bus going back.

Mind you the buses and systems vary greatly in this part of the world. Some times the bus stops so all the people can get off, potty and have some food. This type had AC and cloth covered seats, they were called VIP buses. Other trips all ya get is a stop along the road, and this only cause the driver has to pee. When the occupants see the driver bail out the door after stopping those who need to potty follow, some of them squatted in front of god and everyone, a few would seek a spot behind a bush. I think they all knew when the driver was back on the bus, the bus was leaving so wonder they did not.

One of the many beverage/chip road side stands out in the county.

While mom and I were in Cambodia we saw many Jack Daniels bottles full of some thing that was not JD. When asked the guide said “Gas”  These soda bottles along the road were also full of gas.

This child may have belonged to one of  the ladies making sub sandwiches at the road side. Our bus driver got hungry.  The child is removing banana leaf from a meat roll of some sort. He is going to eat it with hand fulls of rice out of the woven brown container on the table.

Another of the road side food sellers.  I noticed there are pockets of specific fruits/vegges to an area, most of the food sellers in an area where selling the same kind (s) of fruit or veggie. There would be a beverage seller or two with water, sodas and beer.  Many of  these stands seemed to be in the middle of no where yet on a main road.

Let us not forget,  miles and miles of rices paddies.

Savannakhet, Laos

Filed under: Laos,Photos,SEA,SunSet — she_travels at 10:17 am on Monday, February 16, 2009

I enjoyed my time in Savannakhet. 

I understand  the town was bombed and occupied by the Thai armed forces during the French-Thai war. I do not know if that is why the town has a feel of being something much grander than what it is now. 

Bits of town: 

And yet, there is some money about.

I was standing in the road in front of  this house, behind me is the Mekong River. 

The other side of the river is Thailand.

Yet another sunset to add to the collection. 

Well, fiddle sticks… I seem to have lost track of the photos I uploaded and those I have not, lost my order. Dang and this was going so well.

Vientiane, Laos

Filed under: Laos,Photos,SEA — she_travels at 3:41 pm on Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vientiane is the capitol of Laos.

Another mini bus trip through the country.

The mountains gave way to…

I learned most of the rice is planted, cultivated and harvested by hand. The bright green bits are growing young seedlings, when strong enough to move they are spread out in other fields.

You may be able to see the individual rows of seedlings planted here.

Various bits of Vientiane town follow.

I love old buildings.

Vang Vieng, Laos

Filed under: Laos,Photos,SEA — she_travels at 3:21 pm on Sunday, February 15, 2009

Had I known then what I know now I would have stayed in Laung Prabang a bit longer. Ah but I am a “gotta see what is around the next corner chick” so… off I went one morning. I do wish I had had what it took to rent a car to drive myself, the mountains roads between Vang Vieng are such that I had to work very hard not to grab the mini van driver’s arm to haul the car to a stop every ten feet. Photos opportunities abound.

From the car speeding along at what ever rate.

The patches are bits of land in various stages of cultivation, some cleared, some in early planting some later. These hills are STEEP, yet they plant.

Local grown veggies for sale in a village.

The many  shades of Vang Vieng’s limestone hills.



Did I mention it was rainy season? I bought an umbrella in Vang Vieng. Between the rain here and the intense sun later in the trip…holy hannah was I glad I kept hauling it about.

Rain   yes?

I had pasted several similar places,  it took two or three for me to figure out what was going on. All of  the people with their backs to me are westerners, some were eating, some where drinking but all them were watching the TV. Can you see it above the green to the left of the image?  Courtney Cox…they were all watching reruns of “Friends”.   Ah well,  to each his own.

Laung Prabang

Filed under: Flowers,Laos,Photos,SEA,Walks — she_travels at 2:37 pm on Sunday, February 15, 2009

I was in Laung Prabang for two days. I wandered through the quaint streets and alleys, up and down hills, was lost twice and soaked by rain the whole of the time.

There was a group of ladies at the bottom of the stairs selling flowers, the locals climb the stairs to a Budda and place flowers. What I had not seen before was tiny cages with birds inside.

This is what I found at the top, a view with a Budda temple behind me.

A gentleman with a caged bird came to the edge of the railing where I  was framing this shot. I watched while he said something under his breath, released the bird and tossed the empty cage in the direction of what looked like a trash bin. The sensibilities about rubbish are varied the world over. The bird release must have something to do with good luck.

Arsty fartsy just for fun

Pak Vang to Laung Prabang, Laos

Filed under: Laos,Photos,SEA — she_travels at 1:42 pm on Sunday, February 15, 2009

The sun was out..woohoo!

The water level is not necessarily low yet  you can see rocks not covered.

The brown bits are cleared land for planting. Corn was the crop I recognized more often than any other, save rice. There were bits of cultivated ground scattered  everywhere with rows of bushes, trees and plants of all sizes and shapes. It’s tough to see but  two shack looking things sit just above the tree line, one almost dead center of the image and the other to the left. They are very simple platforms just off the ground with a roof. Perhaps a place to have a rest and food out of the sun and mud.

There were several stops along the river route. Some to drop off or pick up people and some like this. The children would come running out of the jungle with plastic baskets full of all manner of beverage, snacks and sundries. They have a huge advantage over the tourists in the boat, not only are we captive but we have not had enough time to process the exchange rate from the last country. I was a bit more prepared than most, I had both food and water. I over heard someone buying a coke, later did the exchange to find he paid 3.50. Holy Hannah!!

Some of you have heard many of my stories from SEA. It is very hard to put in to words the experience, one,  cause eight weeks is a long time. Also cause the culture is so,  so very much different than ours. I often find it difficult to say anything past “Whew, it was exhausting!”

There are obvious things, the whole of Asia is over crowded with people, the noise and pollution is varied and vast. The beauty of the place is breath taking, living most of my life in Colorado were little grows,  I am astounded with the plant live here, absolutely everything not only grows but has to be battled back on a daily basis.

Sorry, I ended up not where I started to go. The second day I was on the boat I was sandwiched between two groups of Israelis, behind one of their seats was a group of four from Indonesia.  Truly the most amazing thing, I didn’t have to turn on my computer to be inspired to learn about these two countries, we had ten hours to toss about ideas, thoughts and experiences. All I ever knew about Israel was the fighting, always fighting over land and religion. We had such fun talking about this and that, I learned more about history in these ten hours than I ever did in school.

I ended up spending  the next several days in Laung Prabang with the gals from Israel.

The world truly is a very small place if ya just hop on a plane to visit it.

Thailand to Pak Vang, Laos

Filed under: Laos,Photos,SEA — she_travels at 11:32 am on Sunday, February 15, 2009

If one goggles “slow boat,  Mekong River” many pages of travel logs, advice and photos appear. The reason for this?  It is one of the  few ways to travel from the north of Thailand to anywhere in Laos. The Mekong is between the two countries and a major route for both tourists and locals living along it’s banks.  Being pretty much sick and tired of buses and mini vans, I choose the two day slow boat.  The stories I heard of the offered fast boat were more danger filled than I was willing to experience, they flip, often.

AS much as I travel nilly willy, I do some amount of research before leaving the states. I knew  going in the boats are PACKED with people and stuff. I also knew many people complained about the seats being hard. Not to worry about my bottom,  I travel with my pillow and a variety of plastic bags. Mom had gone to the night market in Chang Rai the night before to get dinner, I asked her to pick up two orders of chicken strips as boating food. A couple bottles of water with breakfast and I would be set.

Mom was with me in Thailand for three weeks, she went back to the states the same morning I was to start the slow boat adventure. As I remember,  she left the guest house several hours before I did, Oh wait, she went  the night before to hop a plane to Bangkok so she could check in for her flight home at five am.

I, like so many others,  had arranged a mini van to pick me up at the guest house in Chang Rai. They were to take me to the Thai border for an exit stamp, across the Mekong to the Lao side for a visa into Laos then on to the river boat which was to be my home for eight hours one day and ten hours the next. We were to stop for the night in a place called Pak Veng.

Behind my seat in the slow boat. You can see most of us are western tourists. The guys  in brown shirts were both Thai, one was a tour guide experiencing this trip so he could better sell the it to the rest of us.

In front of me, the people you see sitting lower next to the man in the white shirt are Lao, they joined us along the river to hop off long before we did.

Close to sunset we landed in Pak Vang for the evening. Pics of the river from the hill the village sat on.

From the outside bunch O boats like the one we were on .

The Village of Pak Vang. See the monks in the orange robes along the road? They are making their way up begging for food, the two ladies in the front of the picture, one in a red-ish skirt the other in a brown one, both have containers I have noticed during my travels. The containers are chock a block full of cooked sticky rice. When the monks were closer, the ladies with bowed heads, not looking at the monks,  took a heaping handful of rice from the container and placed it in a pouch each monk was carrying.

I spend the night in the guest house directly behind me. There was a lady out front making sandwiches for those of us boarding the boat this morning. With the influence from the french ages ago, one may purchase something akin to a sub sandwich about anywhere in Laos.

I was waiting in the boat I was pointed to, mind you it was not the boat I stepped off of the evening  before. This child was so very intent on what ever she was doing she didn’t notice me snap the picture. I believe this boat was her family’s home.

The last of Pek Vang, the white spots on the hill toward the right of the pic are village buildings. Ahh and yes, see the sun came out the second day. Did I mention, I was in South East Asia during rainy season?