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A mishap ruins my day on Don Det

LAOS | Saturday, 20 March 2010 | Views [374]

So yesterday I was whining about the fact that now the landscape is so dried out. Today I am singing a different tune. I had my boat ride to Don Det. I enjoyed every minute of it, even when my bum fell asleep. When we docked, I jumped onto a rented bike and made for Don Khone, which is connected to Don Det by an old railway bridge that was used during WWII. After crossing the bridge I saw the sign that read “Don Khone, 1 person, 1 day, foreigners pay 20,000LAK.” What kind of bullsh** is this? Do I pay it and continue or just explore Don Det? From what I could see, Don Khone didn’t look all that special to me. I knew that there were waterfalls on the other side and a chance to see the Irawaddy dolphins, but, come on, 20,000 LAK for just one hour? I turned around and decided to stick with Don Det.

Don Det is not a large island and it didn’t take long for me to exhaust the amount of bike paths that they had. I had gotten a couple of good photos which makes what happened next even more painful. I needed to use the toilet, and I was more than happy to pay 1000 LAK for the privilege. When I closed the door to the privy, I looked for a hook, a nail, anything that I could hang my bags on. Nothing of the kind was available. I didn’t want to set my things on the floor because….yuck! I had to take care of business wearing my backpack and camera bag. When I had finished and flushed I leaned over to put the cup back in the bucket and I heard a metallic “clunk”. I didn’t get to go to Don Khone that day, but I’ll bet that they could hear my high-pitched “NOOOOOOOO” on that island. My camera had not been completely submerged, but I could see water (I’d like to think that’s all it was) in the view screen. The moisture slowly disappeared as it trickled into the inner-workings of my camera.

Suffice to say, the rest of my trip to Don Det was wrecked. On the two-hour boat ride back up the river, I cradled my soaked camera like a fallen comrade. I was just heartbroken. The day before, I had dropped my watch and it had broken in such a way that I could no longer wear it. It would still tell time so I didn’t feel a great loss. But this, this was like losing an appendage. Just like the guidebook, I had no one to blame but myself, although I tried. “F***ing Asians with their f***ing squat toilets!”

The boat ride this time was agony. I desperately tried to keep things in perspective. I focused on anything to keep from obsessing. I had enjoyed watching the fishermen on the ride down, and they were out on the water on the return trip. It’s amazing how they can perch on the bow of a narrow boat and throw a big net into the water without losing their balance. I saw young boys fishing as well. One of the boys had been working in the water with a swimming mask. He pulled his skinny brown body back into his small boat with such a smooth motion, it was like he weighed nothing at all. When he looked in my direction, I could see that his brow was furrowed in a look of determination or defiance, maybe both.

I spent the evening in isolation. I tried periodically to turn on the camera, but it was no use. I just hoped that I could salvage the photos on the memory card. Still, I had this faint glimmer of hope. Around 9:00pm I tried to revive the camera one last time….and it kicked on. It took a few times of turning the power on and off to get it to recognize the memory card, but finally, it showed the images that I had taken today. I rushed to get my computer so that I could download the photos. I thought that the arid climate had helped to dry out my camera before there was too much damage done. However, after I finished downloading, I unplugged the camera from the computer, and it sputtered and died…..or did it.

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