Tag Archives: tropics

never miss your water

Now, I-I know that you never miss your water ’til you’re dry…
Diesel

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April in Koh Phangan and my body is a mobile irrigation system. Perspiration seeps unceasingly from pores that never close their eyes on the world. At the slightest sign of exertion – picking up a towel from the floor of the bathroom or tearing a square of paper from the toilet roll – a new response is triggered. I’m wet: perma-wet.

Cotton clothing works overtime in the heat, wicking moisture away from hard-to-reach places. Fresh sarongs, singlets and trousers become sodden in minutes, drooping un-flatteringly from my arms and legs in flaccid pockets that resemble a pelican’s throat pouch. My clothes have a permanent case of tuckshop lady’s arms, or is that just me?

The capacity of my body’s inbuilt sprinkler-system is astounding, if not slightly embarrassing. I’m dishing up salty water all over the place and meanwhile, more than half the island’s households, not to mention their gardens, are screaming out for water. Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Earth Care, Permaculture, Travel

Island Vibes

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Welcome to Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), Mekong archipelago, Laos, land of the Lotus Eaters.

A place to mellow your days away, blissing out in hammocks, supping on fresh fish, straying no father than heat dictates. For amusement: a spot of ‘tubing’; an attempt at fishing; a leisurely bike ride.

The only thing you need tax your mind about is which side of the island to stay on – sunrise or sunset?

exodus, joining the hordes for the boat ride to Don Det

exodus, joining the hordes for the boat ride to Don Det

find a bamboo shack (or tepee) and settle in

find a bamboo shack (or tepee) and settle in

location, location, location (howz the serenity?)

location, location, location (howz the serenity?)

a delicious meal of 'laap', the nation dish of Laos

a delicious meal of ‘laap’, the national dish

Richie goes local

Richie goes local

remarkable mango tree, awaiting the rain to bud some fruit

remarkable mango tree, awaiting the rain to bud some fruit

cold noodle breakfast

cold noodle breakfast (Paul got the runs shortly after this one… me and Rich fared better)

bamboo fishing rigs designed  to ensnare a rainy season catch

bamboo fishing rig designed to ensnare a rainy season catch

cooling down with a watermelon shake. Easy on the sweetened condensed milk!

cooling down with a watermelon shake. Easy on the sweetened condensed milk!

Don Khon wat

Don Khon wat

Mekong rapids, Li Phi falls, Don Khon

Mekong rapids, Li Phi falls, Don Khon

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Arriving in Laos

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That Phoum Pouk

As soon as we crossed the border from China into Laos it became apparent that Lao moves to a different tune than its oversized neighbour to the north.

Entering Laos might entail a change down in gear,” our friends in Dali warned, a day before departure.

This is the part of the journey I’ve been looking forward to since day one,” Richie reminded me as we handed over our passports at the border. Even the security officials seemed happy to see us. We smiled and made our first attempt at the greeting, ‘sabaidee‘, which sounded softer and more childlike in our mouths than angular ‘ni hao’.

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entering Laos on a bus from Jinghong (China)

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laidback at the border, visa on arrival (US$32 for Australian nationals)

I hadn’t realised how uncomfortable the pace of development in China had made me until I entered Laos. Except for the presence of rubber plantations and new roads, sure signs that China’s influence in this region extends well beyond its border, Laos felt a world away. Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Earth Care, Food, History, Social Justice, Travel