Monday, February 11, 2008

Edge of Laos

Vientiene sucks. We realized this during the 3 hour drive from Veng Vieng, most of it through a one dimensional, 3rd-world sprawl along the single road that penetrated the flat, hazy wasteland. The countryside, you could tell, should be lush green; instead there was a slight brownish tint, either due to it being the dry season, or due to the smoke from the locals burning trash on the sidewalks.

We were spoiled by the great terrain of the Laos mountains, but this was pretty brutal as far as drives go. Kind of like the LA portion of Route 66 maybe 20 years ago but with no strip malls. Just lamers.

We still had a day with the motorcycle, and we figured we might as well use it. Our selected destination was a national park about 1.5 hrs away that featured a few waterfalls. The coolest part of the drive was when we finally reached the red dirt road through the "park" and it wound up and down through jungle for 10 km or so. I was a bit nervous about handling the bike on some of it, but the thing handles awesomely; it was built for this kind of thing, after all. The entrance to the park was a shack with a hand operated wooden road block, with chipped red and white paint, manned by a senile uniformed dude who just kind of put his hand out until we had put enough money into it (about $2).

We found the waterfall. It was pretty cool. I was tempted to take a dive, but the water was a bit knarsty and I didn't feel like being wet while driving for 2 hrs. Walking down the river back to the parking lot, we said 'Sabaidee!' to a few people walking the other direction. They smiled and returned the greeting. Two had automatic rifles, not sure why. Further down there were also some teenagers with their pickup, drinking some Beer Laos and fishing with bamboo poles and god-knows-what as bait. Couldn't see any fish, and definitely didn't look like they were going to catch anything.

We took the long way back, driving west along the Mekong River. Much better than the highway, but we found out it was the highway for cattle. I swear: on this drive I have encountered every kind of farm animal here - goats, cows, chickens, pigs, dogs, water buffalo.... you name it, Emma and I have almost hit it.

Got dark just as we drove by the Friendship Bridge that goes into Thailand and we returned the bike with 5 min to spare. Booya.

2 comments:

Peter Spiro said...

Sweet pics.

Laos looks amazing.

Loving the snakes, and spiders.

chelsea said...

badass bike! you two are looking sweet in those helmets...

the pics are sweet though, that waterfall looked amazing. chris, good work on the beard.

emma, get back on the blog writing! and come visit!