May 11, 2005
. We pulled up to a some rocks on the side of the river where our guides lit a fire to cook our shishkebabs and share some water as they'd lost most of it down the river. All in all we were only paddling for maybe 2 hours and we spent 1 hour eating and 3 in taxis so if we had to do it again we'd go in a bus as the amateurish kayacking was too expensive for a kayacking pro like Ben. We arrived in Vientiene around 4. Accomodation in Laos is more expensive than in Thailand so it's a challenge to wander in the humidity and find a cheap room. I am pleased to note that all our rooms so far have come with toilet paper and soap!!
So far our wanderings have found us at: Buddha Park which has huge statues of things we have no idea what the meaning of them is. We did meet one novice Monk who explained one statue to us. Novice monks become real monks after the age of 20 and you can tell them apart by looking at whether or not they have a thick ribbon tied around their waste. If they do then they're a novice!
;the Arch of Triumph which is just like the Arc de Triumph in Paris (from a distance), it's on a large roundabout too and the street it's on is kind of like the Champs de Elysees (if you stretch your imagination). We went to the night market for dinner and watched as gangs of small children begged for food and money. Whenever a table of people got up and left the children would run over to it with their own little bowls and have a feast on the leftovers. It's hard for me to change my way of looking at these beggars from what I am used to (Western beggars). They are people who really do need food in their stomachs (and not beer or drugs). Our first night we hung out in a beer garden and ran into our Aussie mates again. We ended up drinking too much beer Lao and as a result we were too spent to do anything on the 4th of July. Happy Independance day to all you Yanks I love!!!
Now Ben and I are both sick in the stomach with terrible pains (I am going for at least one illness in each country) and we have a bus ride South first thing in the morning. We were going to hit a sauna and have a massage, but I am scared I won't make it that long...
Ben and I decided it would be more fun to kayack to Vientiene than to take a bus like everyone else. So in the morning a group of us were driven to the put in and then guided down the river through 3 x grade 3 rapids. Now these were open kayacks so it was quite difficult to keep them right side up when huge waves were coming at us in every direction. The guides would be yelling, "left,left,go left" and we'd be paddling left, but the current would be taking us toward these rapids and gigantic holes so we'd end up being pounded. The first rapid got Ben and I easily and the kayack flipped over my head so I dropped my oar. Ben was mostly worried about our cameras which were in a wet bag tied to a rope around the edge of our kayack. 2nd rapid we mastered and the 3rd one which was a monstrous beast (to me of course) was the longest. We were told to paddle right through the middle of the rapids and the boat in front of us flipped, we ran right over them, but managed to stay upright and made it out of the rapid until a current further down roared right up in front of us - out of nowhere I might add - and we were in again