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Rosi & Jen's 11 Thousand Beach Odyssey Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do, then the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream...."

Meat Pies, Vanilla Slices, Thai beaches and thoughts of home

LAOS | Sunday, 18 May 2008 | Views [1558]

I’m sitting here at the little writing desk in our riverfront bungalow in Nong Khiaw looking out at the emerald green jungle that covers the limestone mountains surrounding this stretch of Northern Laos.  There is actually many different shades of green making up the landscape around here.  Each one is equally lush and rich.  In the late afternoon the sun shines on the dense foliage in such a way that it seems to glow.  It’s hard to explain and seemingly impossible to capture on film.  After 5 days of staring out at it I’m still in as much awe as when I first saw it and I’m still wondering if it’s actually real. 

The sounds I hear are the crickets and cicadas and the flow of the water over river stones.  I hear the local children laughing and playing and sometimes I hear the whack of a bamboo pole as a fisherman slaps the water trying to scare fish into his net.  I occasionally hear the frog that has taken up residence in our bathroom, birds, the sounds of the jungle forest that surrounds us and every now and then the sound of fish jumping out of the water. 

This has been the first time on the whole trip that we have been able to sit still and totally relax.  It’s a great feeling having nothing particular to do and no where particular to be.   I think a lot here, about my life, and about my family.  I think about my parents and how they always wanted to travel but never really did.  I wish I had been able to take them overseas before they died.  I have my mother’s wedding ring and my father’s rosary beads with me so in a way they ARE here on this incredible journey. 

I also think about what I’ve done with the first 43 years of my life and how grateful I am for the opportunities I have been given, but how different I want the next 43 to be.  Mostly I think about the future and where I will end up.  It’s a great place to start making decisions about what we want to do with the next stage of our lives and to think about lies ahead when we get back to Australia.

The trip to South East Asia has been brilliant and has definitely made us look at ourselves and our way of life in different way.  At times it’s been difficult and confronting, but it’s been such a thrilling journey of both destination discovery and self discovery.  Although we are really looking forward to the next 6 weeks in Thailand, we are both really excited about coming home.  We miss our families and our country.  We miss familiarity, Jen misses meat pies and I for one, miss Vanilla Slices!  This trip has taken us out of our comfort zone and in some cases has pushed us beyond what we ever thought we were capable of.  I think everyone should come to South East Asia.  I think it should be compulsory education for high school students.  To see how people with next to nothing live and to see their simple joy, their hard work and their wonderful spirit is definitely an eye opener that makes you stop whinging about your own economic or life situation.

One thing that has brought endless joy to our travels through South East Asia has been the children.  They have been engaging, funny, loaded with charisma, always up for a chat and very inventive.  No matter how bad their personal situation has been, they have always shown us a smile that would light up a city and they’re always pleased to see us.  They’ve made us origami flowers in Vietnam, they’ve blown us kisses and shown us how to cast a net in Laos and taught us about ancient temples in Cambodia.  They’ve teased us, they’ve practised their English on us and they have taught us how to speak the local lingo.  There is definitely a universal language that children share before they learn prejudice and class structures and 1st world vs 3rd world.  They are very accepting and welcoming and we’re so thankful that we have been able to meet so many.

So in less than a week we will be in Chang Mai, Thailand.  The last leg of our South East Asian Odyssey.  We’ve decided for the Thailand journey we’re going to spend the first week in the mountains but then do a bit of a month long beach/island hop.(we couldn’t decide what beach to go to so we thought we’d do them all!)   Yes folks it’s time for long white sandy beaches and sunset cocktails laying in hammocks and deck chairs by the infinity pool. (Oh the stress of it all!) It’s time for kayak trips and snorkelling.  (And possibly even a diving course.)  It’s definitely time for facials and massage therapy.  We are also both in terrible need of haircuts and eyebrow waxing.  We arrive back in Oz in 6 more weeks.  July 4.  Then after a month of catching up with family and being shouted beers by our beautiful friends our two year “Sheilas around OZ Odyssey” begins!

 P.S.  Have I mentioned that I love my life?

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