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The Adventures of Whales 4 1/2 months with a newly wed couple in Southeast Asia Jan 9th 07 to May 17th 07

Watermelon Seeds...

LAOS | Thursday, 12 April 2007 | Views [2081]


Where to begin?

After our stay in Phnom Penh, we took a bus ride down to a small, coastal town called Sihanuok Ville. We were excited to be in a quiet place right next to the ocean so for our first night we settled into a place called M*A*S*H. The place had good food and initially friendly service but little did we know it would become a brothel as the drunk mid to old aged white guys came tumbling up the stairs with their teenage cambodia girls. We left first thing in the early morning and were very polite to the guesthouse owner but i think she knew why we were leaving. The place had a weird air of oppression that hung around it. All in all, the free pool table was nice. The next place we checked into was much nicer and Elijah made sure with the owner before we booked that no "unregistered" guests were allowed. That afternoon we went for our last swim in the sea and were joined by afew local boys who got a kick out of Elijah catapolting them into the water.

   In order to get to Kratie we had to go back through Phnom Penh and missed the first bus so we stayed two extra nights there before heading north. In Kratie we rented a motorbike and drove to a section of the Mekong River where endangered Irrawaddy freshwater dolphins live. We boarded a small wooden boat with an Italian fellow and our guide paddled out to where the fins and blow holes where cresting the water's surface. The experience was sureal. After that, we explored the surrounding areas on the motorbike and went back to our hotel to sleep.

  The next day we took another bus to Stung Treng, just before the Laos border, where we met Mike and Lota, an English and Finish couple traveling on motorcycles. The following morning we borded a makeshift ferry and gently floated across the Mekong where we were politely met by a huge chunk of concrete used to bring the ferry to a jolting stop. From there we waited about an hour for a Toyota Camry that we packed 8 people into-two in the drivers seat! It was another hour to the border where the "men in uniform" demand 1 dollars to stamp each passport book but they aren't supposed to so we found our way around the first post. Elijah said he was a travelling journalist and we would kindly pay the 2 dollars but would need a receipt. The guy straightened up like he'd been caught and shook his head "no." So Elijah said he would just talk to his supervisor who was busy with the other travellers. The man paused for a minute and humbly gave us our passport without any hassle. The second post, however, was not as easy. We tried to pull the same trick but the man just pulled out a slip of paper, wrote Passport $1 on it and sent us on our way. Oh well. Once in Laos, the Camry driver told us the minibus driver who was supposed to take us the rest of the way went to the wrong border crossing. We waited another 1/2 hour until we climbed into the rattiest bus and lunged our way up the skinny washboard dirt road. We must have changed busses 2 or 3 more times before arriving at our boat crossing to get to Don Det island.

   Don Det was a quiet simple island with bunglows built over the Mekong, each one equipped with a porch and hammock for our reclining pleasure. This little oasis also didn't receive power but for 2 hours late at night so none of the rooms had a fan. The next morning we rented two 1950 era, practically balloon tire, beach handled bicycles and had a ball pedaling to a waterfall and sanded area where we swam for a little while. 

   Mike and Lota were also staying on the island so we ate almost every meal with them and helped Mike fix a flat in his motorcycle tire. The last night we went to a new restaurant where we received a healthy dose of FOOD POISONING. Early the next morning I was tossing and turning until I finally threw up and Elijah's stomach caught up about 3 hours later. Even though we were both really sick we decided it was best to leave the island and head for Champasak. At that time we didn't know why we weren't feeling good and thought it might have had something to do with the lack of electricity, thus causing food spoilage. Much to our suprize it was way worse than that. In Champasak Elijah started throwing up and it was there he noticed about a dozen little, black, half watermelon seed shaped things in his barf which later he realized was RAT POOP! Needless to say, we stayed the next two days trying to sleep and frequenting the toilet in an air conditioned room. Elijah was feeling fit enough on the third day to ride another bike to the ancient Khmer Ruins contructed around the 6th century but they were just that-ruins. His health spout was short lived and he rejoined me later that day with vomiting and stomach knots-we think due to bad water. Unfortunely we spend most of that day in a bus that was on its last leg and broke down the whole way to Savannahket. Both of us nauseous, we stupidly rejected the overpriced tuk tuk drivers offer to take us 2 kilometers down the street to our guesthouse.We walked instead and, well, 2 kilometer turned into 3, then 5 and I was so weak and sick I threw up on the side of the road and Elijah had to lug my bag the rest of the way to the hotel and come back for me. We both fell asleep fearing the next day we would have to take the 8 hour bus ride to Vientaine and check into a hospital for an IV drip. We prayed that night in faith that the Lord loves us and would always take care of us and woke up the next morning with an appetite and full recovery, aside from weakness due to malnutrition and dehydration. Which brings us to today, where we spend most of it resting and using the internet and both of us are feeling much better and expect to be 100% by tomorrow.

We love you all and missed you, especially while we were sick.

Love d&e                   

Tags: Food & eating

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