Beerlao and bicycles

26 Mar

More of the former than of the latter, I admit, but hey.  Apologies for the long stretch between this and my last post (I’m sure your lives have been empty!) – it has been in equal measure due to laziness, the appeal of beerlao (I probably don’t need to translate that for you) and the lazy time we’ve been having since we entered the marvelous country of Laos.  After my long silence, however, I shall now give you a quick run down on how we’ve been spending our time…

The simple version of ‘how we’ve been spending our time’ is: by eating.  We arrived in Laos and found that this is a country where life does not move fast.  Everywhere shuts down on a Sunday; the cafes are always full; the national phrase could, according to the esteemed Lonely Planet, be ‘no problem’, which is a state of affairs I can most definitely deal with.  Finding ourselves, as we moved up the Mekong (originally only stopping in order to break up what would otherwise be twenty hour bus journeys), in a series of very pleasant (and very pleasantly unexciting) cities, we have idled away two weeks most contentedly by sampling various rather unusual local foods (no tarantulas though, I’m afraid) and wandering along riverfronts at sunset, and not a huge amount more.  The last few days have been, to some extent, an exception: we spent the time (such as it is) between meals sightseeing in the capital city, Vientiane, which has a number of picturesque wats set in cool, leafy gardens, all but one within convenient cycling distance from each other.  To be honest, even the further out wat – Pha That Luang, a huge steeple of gold and something of the national symbol – was probably within cycling distance too, but hey, we had to leave some time to drink beerlao, so we got a tuk tuk.

All in all, then, our time in Laos so far has been utterly fantastic and utterly lazy.  Perfect.  It is, however, just about to get a little more exciting with a trek tomorrow to Ban Na, an area in a protected national park which is particularly populated by elephants, due to the locals once making the mistake of planting a crop of sugar cane – a much more lucrative crop than their previous produce.  Rather than raking in the profits, though, their village suddenly became a feeding ground for a herd of elephants who came out of the jungle and proceeded to eat all their sugar cane.  They got rid of the sugar cane, but the elephants proved harder to budge, so the village is now something of a base from which to try to spot some truly wild pachyderms.  Cross your fingers for us…I’ll keep you posted.

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