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My First Backpacking Adventure

Running from the Rain

CANADA | Sunday, 24 January 2010 | Views [981] | Comments [3]

The rain chased us from Vang Vien. Kurt told me it was a shame I didn’t get to tube down the river and get drunk from the river side bars as is the custom, but the rain ruined things. So Kurt and I decided to keep moving south and maybe we would get some sun and a much needed break from the road. We booked the ‘sleeper bus’ from Vientienne to Paxe, with regular buses making up the difference between Vang Vien and Vientienne, as well as Paxe to Don Det. The sleeper was cozy, We got a pic of it and it was basically a 5 by 3 foot cushion on which we both had to sleep. Our shoulders overlapped if we both lay on our backs at the same time. Regardless it was more comfortable than a traditional bus for the 13 hour bus ride to Paxe. I managed a decent sleep, but Kurt felt nauseous the whole way and didn’t end up sleeping at all. By the time we got to Paxe all he wanted to do was find a bed. It’s only another 2 and a half hours to Don Det, so I tried to convince him to come but he was feeling way to shitty and was set on staying in Paxe. I felt bad leaving him and offered to delay our onward ticket to the next day, but he was set on staying in one spot to ride out his sickness. Seeing as the ticket was already payed for and I hadn’t had a chance to chill in one spot for an extended period of time, I decided to push on. So another 2.5 hours on the bus then a little ferry across the Mekong river and I made it to Don Det Island in southern Laos. I started talking to an American guy from Colorado on the boat and we set off to look for guesthouses together. He was an alright guy, but not someone I want to be spending a lot of time with here so we parted ways as we chose different guesthouses. I found a spot with a charismatic ‘mama’ who’s teeth are stained black from chewing tobacco presumably. It’s a very small Island, and you can walk around the whole thing in maybe an hour. I met three Israelis who offered me to smoke with them. Very friendly and chill folks just on the tail end of a 7 month trip through many places including India. They were doing Hebrew crosswords and listening to some tunes so I sat and smoked with them for a bit. Then I decided to go find a restaurant to view the beautiful sunset over the Mekong River. Found a decent place and ordered the beef, sticky rice and a beer Lao. The beef was the chewiest piece of meat I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if it was a bad cut or not beef at all but I choked down whatever pieces would fit down my throat and decided to stick to noodle dishes from now on. The beef couldn’t spoil the view though as 3 straight days of rain ended in a beautiful cloudy sunset. Don’t know if it was the chewy beef or the smoke, but I felt content, maybe just one thing(person) missing. You can definitely see the poverty here. Even in Vang Vien, most businesses are family run. Literally that is what the whole family does all day. If there is demand for business they don’t close. Kurt and I got a much needed foot massage the other day and I swear we were disturbing the family from their supper. I felt bad but they truly wanted us to come in and give them business. It is quite obvious that tourism is supporting this whole area. It seems like your vocation here is either tourism, or farming and fishing. Not only does tourism bring in more money, I think it’s the easier work too. None the less I still feel bad when to get to my riverside hut, I have to walk through the family kitchen/livingroom/bedroom to get there. They always are happy for the business and love to joke. You hear the girls call single guys handsome all the time. The first time it happened I let my ego inflate a bit, but Kurt reassured me that they call any single white man handsome. A white husband would mean passage to a better country, a more comfortable life and money to help out their family back home. You see old white men take advantage of this fact all the time and to me it’s creepy. I’m not sure how they can convince themselves that a young, pretty Asian girl who doesn’t speak their language at all is legitimately interested in them. But this is a different world from back home, that is for sure.

Tags: don det, sleeper bus



Sounds like you are seeing some very intersting things and your eyes are open to the beauty and truth. You write so eloquently!!! Maybe you should come home and become a travel writter - that would be fun! Right now it is snowing like crazy in Calgary so enjoy the sun :) I am cozied up inside with movies today and Charlie is thoroughly enjoying a bone.
Continue having fun and adventure and cannot wait to see more pictures.
Miss you!
Charlie sends a big puppy lick and we could use you here once in awhile to tire him out!!!

  Elska Jan 24, 2010 9:17 AM


I agree with Elska - your whole blog has been written very creatively with humour, depth of insight, and creative detail. Sounds like you are seeing a more 'real' side of SE Asia which is a good thing. I could just envision you looking out on the sunset after supper content in your life and in your sense of adventure. Great stuff! My ankle is 2/3 better with the swelling greatly reduced. Back to the doc next week and then some physio. The storm Elska spoke of is covering all of the prairies and my trip to Wakaw for tomorrow has already been called off. Wind and colder temperatures are to return overnight so now I do envy you the weather! Love the blog, glad to hear your experiences and insights as it helps to not miss you too much. Love Dad

  Dad Jan 24, 2010 10:20 AM


hey Cousin
I agree with Elska and your dad that your writing is absolutey phenominal keep it up. I look forward to following along with you on your journey. Seeing the way most people in SE Asia live makes a person very thankfull for our own standard of life.
looking forward to hearing more stories on the golf course this summer.

  Bruce Wynes Jan 25, 2010 6:07 PM

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