Still no place like home

We’re back on beaches again which is good.  It’s almost hard to think about going inland for too long now because you can’t help wanting to go back to the sea again.  It’s harder and harder to see something new in south east Asia.  You can rely on the lonely planet but it may list all the attractions in each town as temples.  And they all look the same!  That’s why we hired a car in Thailand and it’s been a nice different way of seeing the place.  We wanted to do the backpacker route for a while and it was great for a change but it’s nice to get back to being stared at again by the locals.

Laos was great especially the tubing which we’ve written about on the GPS page.  We spent 3 days in Vangvieng, including 1 day tubing and an extended day recovering and watching the friends box set played back to back – just as the lonely planet warned half the bars would be doing.  After that we headed up to Luang Prabang which was a really nice city although cities in Laos are nothing like you expect – even the capital Vientianne was quieter than Macc maybe quieter than Alderley Edge.  It was in Luang Prabang that I was compelled to buy some stronger painkillers for my rib.  Stuff like that is over-the-counter which is obvious as you could buy opium from a nice lady’s market stall.  The pharmacist’s version helped and was okay.  The next day however we decided to enroll on a Laos cooking class like we’d planned to do in a few countries before.  I took the painkiller in the morning planning to stick to my lower than recommended dose of just 2 per day.  I found myself with much increased mobility during the first course and I washed those pots with the gusto of a spritely child.  When it came to relax and enjoy the product of our hard work I realised I may have overdone it with the washing up and undone some of the mending that those bones had done over the previous few days.   With a lot of pain and another three courses to cook, I decided to take another pill; besides, the leaflet said you could take 1 or 2 at a time.  When it kicked in however, it proved too much for even the slightest bit of concentration and Lindsey had her work cut out for her, rescuing our meal from the smack head that couldn’t even work out a mortar and pestle let alone cook a meal.  Needless to say the food wasn’t great.  Maybe the recipe was rubbish but everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs so I don”t know.  Next was Chiang Mai.  I didn’t really see it last time with Che and the others because all we did was go elephant treking and go out.  This time I spent 4 days indoors resting.  It was after the third day when in a painless state, I spent the entire day hunched over the tiny screen of our tiny laptop, that I put my back out without realising it, and decided to bin those stupid tablets and vowed to never touch the smack again.

Before Laos was Cambodia which was good.  It was a nice change from Vietnam.  As a tourist, you get hassled in these busy places but it was nice that the Cambodians do it with a laugh and a joke. You still spend a lot of time saying ‘no, sorry’ but at least in Cambodia, they’ll joke with you aterwards instead of just looking annoyed or disappointed.  It’s true, they have so little and have been through so much but they are really positive and jokey.  You do have to slightly change your attitude to the beggers because some of them really do depend on hand-outs especially those with no limbs and it is a bit of a shock when you first see it.  Me and Linz both each had a slightly guitly memory which was hard to get rid of by the end of the first day. Mine was when a guy with no arms and no legs hobbled up to me while we were eating.  Automatic as it had become, I solemnly said ‘no, sorry’ and I still, faintly thankfully, remember his look of happiness and friendliness turn to disappointment.  You don’t want to disappoint someone with no arms and no legs so in future, I smiled and said ‘hi, how are you’ before saying ‘no, sorry’.  It’s hard to know what to do.  Lindsey’s own demon was when a kid that made money from collecting empty coke cans for recycling came up to her to ask for her can that had been half poured into her glass.  His mimed that he was thristy and would like the remaining drops left in her can.  Upon which, she downed the last of it and gave him the empty.  It was only afterwards that she realised what he had meant and how mean it had looked; and the image haunted her for a while afterwards as well.

You’ve got to attempt to live normally over here as this is our life for the time, so just as at home, we’ve been the cinema a few times to see the latest flicks.  Hong Kong cinema was pretty normal but I won’t waste my time in a Vietnam one again.  We watched Narnia 2 in Hanoi and although sometimes in England you might get a few inconsiderate people talking through the film, in that one, the whole cinema didn’t stop talking from beginning to end.  I’m sure we were the only ones who knew anything that happened.  Thailand’s cinemas are funny, after the trailers there’s a 5 minute film about the king shown before every film.  Everyone stands to attention while it’s shown and it wouldn’t surpise me if some tears of happiness were shed.

Anyway, onwards to Bangkok tomorrow.  I’ve done the obligitary pizza company and it’s up to Linz is she wants to brave a ping pong show.

Missing everyone.  Glad that Andy has got a band and his European tour sorted that he’s wanted for so long.

See you all soon,

Love Lee

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