Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Boon Pii Mai Lao!

Happy Lao New Year!

Well I'm a bit flustered because of my own stupidity, I wrote this whole post already but be it my luck or not, the power cut out just as I was spell checking and I lost 2 hours work. My fault for not saving, I was almost pulling my hair out, but at least I wasn't writing a paper or something like that... with a deadline haha deadlines I remember those!

So here we go again...

Si Phan Don (4000 islands) is a beautiful display of natures talents. The Mekong fans out to distribute thousands (apparently some think 4000 or so after which the place is named) of islands of various sizes. We stayed one such an island, Don Khon to admire its beauty and languid nature. The people here seem to have captured the same way of life that the Mekong displays, an unhurried pace of peaceful demeanor and beauty, laughing through the rapids and enjoying the reflective nature. Arriving here and staying for a week we were willingly forced to slow down. It's so hot during the day that we simply melt by just swinging in our hammocks and still that was doing too much.
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This was our welcoming sunset as we arrived at dusk

Our week co-in sided with the Lao new year Pii Mai, where virtually everything shuts down and all the locals go out drinking Lao Lao whisky and singing Karaoke. Unfortunately during this time our toilet plugged, we ran out of water and the little electricity that we are supposed to have from 7-11pm was not working, we had a very hard time finding our guesthouse owner who had apparently gone incognito to enjoy the celebrations, but we managed. I'm not sure however how the very drunk villagers managed after swaying and singing down the street to all who will listen at any hour of day and for some, many days in a row.

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Another stunning sunset, do you get the feeling of what I mean by the way the locals mimic the river in this picture?


This part of the Mekong is also home to freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins, we took a boat tour to see them and although they keep their distance we were still able to see them splashing around and their very small dorsal fins. When it was quiet we could hear them blowing from their blow holes. It was a very cool experience.

(not my picture)
Unfortunately when there is something mystical, there is almost always something threatening to take it away,
there are an estimated 80-100 of these dolphins left in the Mekong but are threatened by drownings that happen when they get caught in gill nets left by fisherman and it is suspected that high pollution rates in the Mekong are poisoning the calves, further threatening the populations. They look a lot like a beluga whale, with a stubby face and tiny dorsal fin don't you think? Of course when we mentioned this to people here, most do not know what a beluga looks like.

We managed to grab a fantastic sunset on the boat ride back
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There are two tumbling waterfalls in the area and my favorite was the Khon Phapheng Falls or the so called "Niagara of SE Asia" I would not go so far as to compare the two but it is the largest waterfall by flow in SE Asia and I did find it impressive.
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Elaine and David, two Australians we met and spent the day with going to the falls

The other is the very pretty Somphamit Falls,
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We were thinking that we could definitely make it down this one in a Kayak... even toying with the idea... hahaha!
The half hour walk to these falls was not so funny, it was so hot I could smell the earth baking, but maybe that was me, good thing I wasn't skewered on a spit, I would have been done for! So I know you are thinking that we should just go for a swim in the Mekong to cool off but as there is a particularly nasty parasite that lives in this particular part of the water, this was not advised, it affects your liver (can cause failure) and can hibernate for 10 years before symptoms start. I had to pretend that we were not showering in this water.

Well the only bad thing about nearing the end of our trip is that we are nearing the end of our trip! We are running out of time and unfortunately we mistook the exact dates for Pii Mai and didn't book the earlier flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia because everything was closed so we now are leaving on Friday and have a couple of days to burn (or bake from the heat) in Pakse where we fly out of.

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Here is a pretty sunset from Pakse
Our hotel has a rooftop patio with great views.

So what am I doing right now? I just witnessed a small gecko devour a butterfly. The geckos are everywhere in SE Asia, they are so cute, I always want to catch one but get too scared at the last minute that they will bite me.
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Well some of you have been wondering when exactly we get back, so we looked at our plane tickets and tried to figure it out because there is no arrival time for Vancouver printed.
We fly from Bangkok at 1:20am on the 5th and get to Incheon Seoul 5ish hours later, have a 12 hour layover leave for a 10 hour flight plus the time difference and minus the date that 27 hours later gets us to Vancouver on the same day had us very confused so we looked up our flight:

flight
6:25 pm Depart Seoul (ICN)
Arrive Vancouver (YVR) 12:20 pm Fri 5-May
Duration: 9hr 55mn
Korean Air Korean Air 71
Nonstop flight

So I would love to see all my wonderful friends and family at 12:20pm on the fifth who can make it to the airport! That is provided I do not skip out on the flight and stay in Thailand forever...nah I miss all of you too much, but it is tempting...

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All right one more sunset pic, I love sunsets... not that you couldn't tell!
Ooo there are more pictures that you should check out

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