Saturday, September 10, 2005

SE Asia is Not All Bad

Nana Thai Hotel - Bangkok, Thailand

Despite the scamming travel agents, the heat, the broken buses, and the losses of consciousness, I still enjoyed our trip from Hue, Vietnam to Bangkok, Thailand.

The border crossing between Vietnam and Laos was very beautiful. The morning air in the hills is refreshingly cool and whisps of cloud and fog moved across the sky and sunk down into the valleys. It was quiet and calm despite the clamour of money-changers and the steady stream of traffic.

Even if the bus was a rusting piece of junk, it is how the locals travel. The other passengers seemed genuiniely surprised to find a couple of Westerners in their midst. Those that spoke a bit of English were eager to ask us questions. It is hard not to feel welcome when someone takes an interest in who you are.

The road through Laos was about as real as they get. We passed many small villages where people live without electricity and running water in stilt houses and very brown, very naked children run around freely. In between clusters of homes, there was nothing but lush green hills, small rivers, and rice paddies. Our "lunch stop" saw a horde of local women selling us rice balls and chicken-on-a-stick through open bus windows.

We had our first tuk-tuk ride in Savanakhet (Laos side of Thailand/Laos border). We gotta get these things in the US. Imagine a beast with the front of a motorcycle and the back of a diahatsu electric cart. Add a good bit of speed and some careening around pot-holed road. That's a tuk-tuk. Any other taxi is boring by comparison.

On the Thai side of the Mekong (which we crossed in a small local very), Jarah got an enthusiastic Thai language lesson from the staff at an open-air restaurant near the bus station. They were having a blast watching us foreigners muddle through the numbers and simple phrases. Their hospitable and educational welcome gave me a good feeling about the Land of Smiles.

So, while there were a few bits of unpleasantness, the journey across SE Asia did provide many moments that are memorable and did not involve anyone falling into a ditch.


Blogger jason said...

I've been stuck in the same dirty ditch since Dong Ha. Bangkok is the dirtiest.

9/11/2005 3:42 AM gmt


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