Now, I-I know that you never miss your water ’til you’re dry…
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
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
find a bamboo shack (or tepee) and settle in
location, location, location (howz the serenity?)
a delicious meal of ‘laap’, the national dish
Richie goes local
remarkable mango tree, awaiting the rain to bud some fruit
cold noodle breakfast (Paul got the runs shortly after this one… me and Rich fared better)
bamboo fishing rig designed to ensnare a rainy season catch
cooling down with a watermelon shake. Easy on the sweetened condensed milk!
Don Khon wat
Mekong rapids, Li Phi falls, Don Khon
If there’s one crime that suits my disposition better than others it’s stealing fruit. In England, harvesting fruit without permission is a sport fondly referred to as ‘scrumping’. It’s a right of passage. No stigma attached. Even the prime minister would be forgiven fruit-stealing proclivities so long as he atoned by lowering the tax on apple cider.
Here on the banks of the Mekong, in a country twice removed from the grassy orchards of Somerset, there’s every chance that scrumping is an offence punishable by more than just a slap on the wrists.
The fruit that has got me wondering whether it’s ever right to steal, is none other than the king of fruits, the mighty mighty jackfruit: big as an Ox and knobblier than granny’s crochet blankets. This one’s a beauty: the fruit is roughly wombat-size, irregular, oblong, kissed with black at its extremities, and anchored to the trunk by a stem as thick and sinuous as an umbilical chord. The tree has delivered one hell of a baby!
Thai jackfruit for sale in the market in Jinghong, China