Post # 26 Don Kong
Day 31 1049 days to go. Distance: today 43km total 1558 km. It’s 4.34pm Saturday 31/12/2011 Don Kong. I woke this morning to see the sunrise looking at me though the window how beautiful. I’ll go check it out proper in the morning as the sun rises on the east side of island where I’m staying. Right now I’m sitting in a town called Muang saen on the western side and enjoying the last light and river front comings and goings and goings leading up to sunset. There are two islands offshore and the land between is Cambodia about 500 meters away. How cools that. Kind of ironic hey heading there in the new year and here on new years eve looking out at the prospects to come. But right now things are pretty good with the sunsetting on a day thats been big fun. Sunrise was all to much and I just had to pass out again waking at 8am awesome. Had the best sleep I think since I’ve started my brains been so turned on with everything new and unknown and its been a bit challenging turning it off at night. Anyway not last night. I’m joined now by a herd of cows also hanging out on the river front and why not. I just ran out of camera battery bugga. Oh well will just have to come back tomorrow afternoon how tragic. It’s only about a 20minute cycle to the other side of the island so easy enough to pop over. The islands about 40 km around and rube and I checked it out today a no brainer stopping and going where we liked its been great. We spent most of the time on the sandy track that seems to run along the river front where there’s tiny villages scattered. We got mixed welcomes. I don’t think some island folk in the tucked away villages have much to do with tourists and we got a few odd looks. I must say we do look a bit out of place and Im odd at the best of times :-). But hey we’re out there amongst it and most were happy after I said my hellos and introduced myself with a handshake. The kids of course love it and happy kids happy parents here in Loas that’s for sure. Their parental instincts are so strong and priority children so apparent.
It’s 9.35pm and I ran out of Ipod battery as well but back again now everyone charged up. I’ve dined on these thick sweet corn crisps and condensed milk that soaks into the crisp and was amazing yum. I hung out at the river from this arv the sunset was beautiful and I have to get pickies so Ill be back there tomorrow to capture it. We came back via the southern end of the island and its a different look again little villages again but agricultural with the families shins up in rice patty fields planting and sowing with their cone woven hats. It looked fabulous the afternoon lighting and the green fields with reflection coming off the shallows. The spots of color contrasts in the peoples clothing topped it off. Anyway like I said ill head back the same tomorrow afternoon and enjoy it all again with the camera. Got some good shots today but. Saw such cool everyday things. A ducks laughing at me. As you know it’s New Years and some of the river front restaurants are closed with the others putting on entertainment to draw the local crowds. Anyway I wanted to be amongst it but not in it so Ive found this restaurant that’s right on the river and next door to some cool music perfect. It’s all in darkness so I have my head torch on and the resident puppy has taken place at my feet. Nice space but I must look a bit odd to passerby’s. Clearly the ducks think its great. Their quacks makes me smile. The lights on the river boats putting along and the villages on the neighboring islands are beautiful. There’s this balmy breeze coming straight off the river and I think I got the best spot ever. anyway back to the stuff we saw today. The cycle around the northern end was quite dry and barren but once the road came out the western side the village life open up. each village would have a small watt and tracks leading down to the water through bamboo picket fenced gardens and moored long boats and fishing nets etc. Moored Boats are secured to bamboo poles diagonally staked in the sand. Villagers were busy using the river to wash themselves and their clothes with the naked kids playing and squealing alongside jumping off rocks and doing what kids do best having fun. At risk of sounding a bit devo it was fun to watch. I found this river landing opposite a watt and it had a hammock stretched out so I had my first lounge nice and read up further on the area. It wasn’t long before a small group of baby monks and their guardian of sorts visited the stranger in their hammocks. The kids all told me their names and laughed at my pronunciation and one wrote his name in charcoal on the floor which I wrote mine alongside. I really love this sort of stuff people communicating with that 90% non-verbals its really possible to share and enjoy the company adults and children alike. I went back to where I had parked Rube and she had found a red kindred long boat spirit and they were bonding also cracking red fast jokes. One of the watts I visited was all open with prayer flags tied across the room all blowing. The temple was decorated with painted stories and shrines it was beautiful full of light, color and movement with the flags. i enjoyed that space for ages. I tried to get some pickies of the different types of typical village homes ones where the family weren’t hanging out as I felt a bit intrusive photoing their homes. There goes the ducks again 🙂 Mostly the people hang out on the thatched layout tables under the homes or they could be weaving or preparing food, fixing nets just doing their thing in the shade and cool. I passed this puppy that had been given his dinner of sticky rice and loving it. He wasn’t quite sure about me and gave me the ‘are you checking out my sticky rice’ look. Sorry bud and moved right along. The people were cooking or baking in these mud ovens they were so primitive looking but must work a treat like a pizza oven I suppose. Next to it was a dug out mud hole and there were three vents. I couldn’t see what they were cooking but mostly they’re eating fish so it could have been like a fish smoker but thats just a guess. Anyway really interesting. I think one of my favorite sounds of the day was the slow clunk of buffalo bells. These creatures just wallow, eat, and hang out going nowhere fast. The babies are soooo cute and they’re always by mum leaning even, and covered in mud just the big buffalo do. I stopped at this shop where the woman was selling bags of red colored seeds and raw peanuts. I bought a bag of the nuts and ate them with the lady. She had no front teeth and the ones she had were all stained red I think it’s a herb they chew that gives them a bit of a high. Beedle nut or something like that. My partners mentioned seeing it used in the Solomons whether its the same type thing. She was certainly very friendly and happy as most Laos people are on face value. I came into the bigger village of Muang Saen and enjoyed the markets there and the riverside life. I passed a mother goat and her babies in the street and they were so up to no good – Bless their little bleats. After sunset I headed back to the guesthouse where Than’s having a few friends over for the ‘count down.’ He warned me it could get a bit noisy. I bailed and uploaded photos from today and now found this great spot. It’s 11.00pm so if Im to do sunrise I suppose Ill have to start thinking about heading back and tucking myself into my beautiful bed. A very cool day and again nice to share. Happy New Year to you and I hope you found a special way to welcome 2012 even if it was in your dreams. Talk soon x