Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

first update of 008 from DPR Laos

Happy New year everyone.
I am writing to you all from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Laos. A country where they let the people read my blog on the internet!! The censorship problem is only in Viet Nam. I have been here for about 10 or 12 days. I am now in Pakse. I have just gotten here from Don Det, a tiny island in the delta of the Mekong river, in South Laos, near the Cambodian Border.
I was on Don Det from 23/12/007 until today. this little island is part of the "4000 islands". It is an undeveloped tourist area. The people live a life of subsistence most of them are fisher folk or rice farmers, and are ruled (locally ) by a tribal cheif who is a cool guy. I drank "beau coupe" Beer Laos with him on New Year Eve. The kind of guy you can have a meaningful conversation with even though he doesnt speak any english and I no Lao. We kept clicking our plastic cups and drinking beer shots. This is how one drinks beer in Laos: A table of 6 or 8 people buy a case of beer and its brought to the table with 2 plastic cups. someone purs enough beer in your cup for a big one-hitter and you belt it down, being careful to leave a little bit which you throw out on the floor and pass the cup back for the next guy. so at the end of the night you have no idea how much beer you have had.
I think the chief was into my bald head because he kept rubbing it and giggling and called over some friends of his to rub it too...he is not only the chief of the tribe, the village and the island, but also the chief of police, so I felt it best to just drink up and laugh along with the boyz though I have no idea what we were laughting about or what they were saying, but I think it was all good. Reminded me of the time I met the mayor of Istambul, well...same same but different...
So Don Det has no paved roads, they have no eletricity, no cars, no noise and no hassels. I had a lovely and relaxing 10 days and met some very cool people on the island on my last 3 days or so. until then, I felt a little alienated, most of the people that were on Don Det seemed to be sight seers. Not so many long term travellers. One of the things I like about Asia is, especially among the long time truckers, you meet a lot of "spiritual seekers" here. But I was just meeting booze up, smoke up, sight seers and it was starting to make me feel a little blue.
I was at Mr Phao's guest house and rented a little bungalow for $2.10 USD per night. . the two big attractions there are two fantastic waterfalls, and the rare and enchanting irriwadi dolphins.
These fresh water dolphins attract nature loveing shutter-bugs and amatuer nature photographers from all corners of the known world. You pay 8 USD and go out in a boat and they point them out to you and you see them doing their dolphin thing. The ones I saw were a little smaller than ocean dolphins and otherwise seemed just the same as their sea going relatives. a little dissapointing actually...The waterfalls were great. too intense to swim in. like swimming in Niagra falls eh? but spectacular. I actually liked the smaller (even though it was huge) one better.
Other than that I have been hanging out in the hammock and reading books and playing table tennis and taking walks and bicycle rides. It is dry season so the terrain isnt as green, but there are very few mosquitos. It has been real warm like 34 in the day and 20 at night. So thats 90 and 60 to the folks in USA. shorts and tanktop weather, and I got to swim in the mekong, which was fun too.
I met a few chefs here. A young Finnish guy who really really likes to drink. Strange. before he got into cheffing he was a yoga teacher. I saw him meditating in front of his bungalow one morning and asked him if he had explored buddhism here in South East Asia. A topic that is near and dear to my heart. He was like " Oh, I dont really give a shit about that. Anyone who thinks drinking is bad, well what can I say" he says with a big grin on his face...I like to meditate though.." So we talked about food instead.
Then I met a totally cool English guy (called Minnie) who looks like Keith Richard did when Keith looked good, and he had been a chef in England for like 10 years and then gone to Sweden and cooked there for 10 more and played rock and roll when he wasnt cooking and now he was in Laos, married to a Lao woman and has a guest house and a restaurant ( called King Khong) with a ping pong table and a couple of guitars lying about and he makes good english tea with ginger and honey and taught me how to make the Lao specialty called Laap and everyone in his guesthouse eats together and they are all into ayurvedic medicines and herbal natural healing and buddhism and the like and I just felt at home all over again. I had found my Sangha. These were the folks I had New Years with.
Food had been nice there to. I was eating a lot of rice noodles stir fried or in soups and curry veggies with sticky rice. Tried some pumpkin burgers too. a really tasty treat they was, indeed. There is an Aussie guy there who had a bakery and he made very fine cinnamon rolls and well you get the picture, eh?
They drink a spirit here that is reminiscent of lighter fluid mixed with turpentine, called lao lao. I definitely recommend you cross the street and run away if anyone offers you any. The beer is the best in Asia so lots of drunken revelry on New years eve. I stopped short of getting drunk but did enjoy watching the others making complete eejits of themselves. Ahh "what the gecko" its new years right?
here are some quotes before I go. fi am going waterfalling and checking out some old buddhist wats tomorrow and visitng some coffee plantations on a (uuughhh) tour group!! so I am outta here. Next update from the Plain of Jars.Oh yes, special big big thanks to Jan in Amsterdam and Al in Turkey for writing and telling me about Don Det. If any one knows good places to go that are near to where I am I appreciate hearing from you
Peace and love to all who read these words.
"He that gives should not remember, he that receives should never forget." Talmud
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."Henry David Thoreau published in 1854,


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