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Smiley Nix Big Adventure Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji - Starting March 29 2008

Pai to Bali the Missing Weeks Part 2/2

INDONESIA | Saturday, 24 May 2008 | Views [1432] | Comments [5]

Ok, now where was I?! Sorry, to leave the story hanging in mid air like that! I've had quite a busy week or so since arriving in Bali. Just trying to make the most of my time in this beautiful and exotic place. It's really been everything I could have wished for and more. But before I go onto that I will just fill in the bits I've missed - I promise to try and keep it brief!

The last instalment ended with me telling you about Laos. I only really spent time in Luang Prabang and Vientiane (the capitcal) and at the time I know I was not havng the best time. But it's funny, in only a relatively short time, looking back I can really only see clearly the things I enjoyed.

Luang Prabang was a pretty little town on the banks of the Mekhong. French influenced colonial architecture and a real cafe culture. Every evening there was a vibrant and colourful street market. Around 5pm the main street would be shut off to traffic and many vendors would line the streets with their stalls, setting out their wares under bright orange canopied gazebos. Their wares consisted of beautiful silks and fabrics made into all manner of things, wooden artifacts, jewellery and much more. Alongside all the souveniers, there was also a food market with everything from bar-b-que fish on wooden skewers to dubious looking buffalo burgers and roasted birds and other indistinguishable creatures and dishes!

During the day, between relaxing at my lovely hotel (with its luxuries such as dressing gown, slippers, air con, tv, hot water and hair dryer - not to mention the pool) I would take a bicycle and go off exploring around and about. For a bit of local culture I went to the museum and the theatre, where I saw a play with traditional music, masks and costumes depicting a story from the Ramayana legend - which I believe has its roots in the hindu religion (though there are so many story overlapping themes and stories tied up with local folklore and also different religions. I lose track the further through SE Asia I travel).

A highlight in Luang Prbang was going to a performance put on by the children at the community entre. First we were treated to experience the rituals of a traditional Baci cermony - which I think is to do with getting rid of bad spirits and encouraging good ones. It involves tying threads around each others wrists and sharing food offerings. There are some pictures of this and the performance that the children put on in the Laos folder. The performances consisted of a mixture of traditional dancing, a play and a puppet show. The children were aged 12 to 18 and were so proud of theselves - it was really lovely to watch and i thoroughly enjoyed it.

After Luang Prabang I took a rather long and slightly hairy 8 hour bus journey to Laos' capital - Vientiane. I honestly cannot say too much about this place except, it was quite the oddest capital city I have ever been to. I know Bangkok was a bit scary and overwheling at the start but at least it had its own character and identity. Vientiane had nice French colonial architecture but it was just lacking in something I cannot quite quantify. It felt quite deserted of people and personality - it was quite strange. There was not really much to do (I had pretty much seen as many museums and Wats as I really wanted to by this point). But I did manage to root out a couple of good shops and managed to pick up some nice little trinkets and souvenirs and the place I stayed was really friendly and god value!

Having spent a couple of days in Vientiane and still feeling this overwhelming sense of dread mixed with hope that things would be enjoyable again towards my impending visits to Cambodia and
Vietnam I decided to fly to Seim Reap (Cambodia) in order to visit the temples at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

I think I kind of expected Angkor Wat to give me the same feeling as I experienced when I did the inca trail and saw Machu Picchu but it didnt, though I'm not quite sure if that's because I generally wasn't enjoying this bit of the trip so much. There is no denying though that it was really awesome and impressive and defintely well worth a visit. I also had an amusing guide - though he did not mean to be amusing! his name was Manoune and he was a serious little fellow with a reall hatred of Thailand and the Thai people. It was this immature stance towards everything Thai that made the guiding comical! I understand that the Thais treat cambodians in superior fashion, which has naturally riled the proud Cambodians. There history is inextricably linked through various wars and terrotitorial disputes and interchanges dating back over hundreds of years. But Manoune was most offended to learn that I had spend several weeks already in Thailand but planned only to spend a week or so (I lied it was barely one week in the end) in his country - oops! From that point on that digs started. During the trip it started to rain 9and i main rain). I had come prepared with brolly and attractive yellow plastic mac (the sort big enough for 5 people and your back pack). Manoune had not come prepared! So I chose the brolly and offered him the coat. Before accepting (despite the fact it was p*ssing down and he would have got soaked to the skin in seconds) he had to check where said mac had been purchased (he was even starting to mention how thin and flimsy the plastic was - it cost me about 30p so that's not surprising)! So I lied nd told him i had bought it in Laos, otherwise I don;t think he would have worn it! I guess you had to be there but remembering it still makes m chuckle!

Seim Reap itself was quite horrible. Really dirty and just full of tuk tuk drivers, hawkers and beggars who do themselves a disservice because instead of feeling any sympathy for their situation you end up viewing them with the same contempt you come to view moquitoes when you are out here! Or at least that's what happened to me! It was also very overpriced (for this part of the world) and it felt like I was being ripped off at every turn. So on the basis that Pnom Penh, the capital and the next port of call on my route , was rumoured to be lot worse and Vietnam even more full on still in these respects I abanoned the plan to visit - at least this time and booked a flight straight to this isand paradise of Bali.

One day I would still really love to go to Vietnam because there some places I'd love to see there. But I will not go alone and will go for a holiday and not as part of this travelling exprience - which though hard to for anyone who has not approached a trip in this way to understand is a somewhat different experience.

Anyway, I apologise if I got a little gloomy there. I would also say my experience of this a part of the world is just one version of events. Many people visit Laos and Cambodia and feel they surpass anywhere they have ever been. So please don't be influenced by my version of the story. I just wanted to make this an honest account of my experience, I think a lot of factors influence how much you like a place or not when you are traveling. i could probably go another time and feel very different I'm sure.

That really concludes part 2/2 of Pai to Bali the missing weeks. I'm looking forward to filling you in the Bali bits which have been so much fun so far! so much so that I've pretty much made up my mind to stay my full 30 days here. so more of all that later!

Love to all.

Nx

Tags: the temple from the tomb raider movie!

Comments

1

Hi...My name is Miftakul Janah but just call me MJ. I don't know why, I'm Indonesian. I don't know why I'm so proud to My country when u tell more about Bali. even I'm Javanis not Balis. if you know, actually besides Bali there are still so many cultures and beautiful tourism object in my country. and I do hope some day you can find it and enjoy that:)

  Miftakul janah May 25, 2008 11:42 PM

2

Hi Nix, still love reading your accounts of what you are up to! Hey, if push comes to shove and you have missed a few countries out and end up needing to come to NZ earlier, no big deal, the front door is open anytime for you to arrive, we are so excited at seeing you soon. And, don't worry about writing how you feel about these countries, everyone has their own expectations and thoughts on them and, as you are on your own and not doing a "out-of-the-brochure-holiday" things will be different, you are probably also seeing lots of things that other tourists may not see. Keep writing your journal. xxxxxx

  Karen Lavender May 26, 2008 7:02 AM

3

Hey, just thought would say hi quickly...Glad you are now having fun in Bali, have never been there! Hope you had a nice birthday too! The hotel looked really nice, so hope you were pampered at least! Take care xx

  Louisa May 31, 2008 6:41 PM

4

Hi Nic
Have finally received your blog link from my sister. Happy Belated Birthday - was thinking of you on the day if that counts!!!
Tania xxx

  Tania Stone Jun 12, 2008 3:17 AM

5

Hi Nix

Just checking in that everything is 'aye okay'. You haven't written anything on your blog for some time. Guess you are too busy enjoying yourself :O) I can't wait to read an upated and to see your pictures.

  Karen Lavender Jun 12, 2008 7:20 AM

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