I have mixed feelings about Laos.
It is the most beautiful of the S.E. Asian countries I’ve been to so far. It’s green and jungly and craggy. There are waterfalls
and graceful temples
On the other hand, it can be difficult to travel around because of misinformation. I was not able to experience all I would have wished because I made a decision not to make motorcycle trips of any length. I have seen too many people with very nasty grazes, strapped up feet and arms, etc. and did not want to risk an accident on my own where no-one spoke English. The cost of taking tours for a single person from inside the country is prohibitive.Perhaps I should have organised a tour while I was in the U.K.
Anyway, I am now in Cambodia.
I spent a couple of days in Don Det, one of the “Four Thousand Islands” in the South of Laos.
While I was there I went kayaking and was lucky enough to see two of the Irrawaddy Dolphins. They were a long way off, but it was a delight to see them breaking the surface of the water.
From there it took a boat, a minibus, a two hour border wait, another minibus, a ferry and four or five hours in the minibus again to get to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
I had a great time in Siem Reap. I stayed in a very friendly, very clean hostel by the Art Night Market. To see Angkor Wat and the the other temples around, I bought a three-day ticket.
It’s difficult to do justice to this sight, by pictures or by description. Angkor Wat is the largest and probably the most complete. There are large bas-reliefs running around all four sides.
This shows Vishnu, (who is also the turtle seen at the bottom of the carving), with demons on the left and gods on the right churning the Ocean of Milk by holding a tug of war with a Naga or giant snake. After a thousand years, this led to the creation of the universe.
I particularly liked Bayon, which stands in Angkor Thom, because of the smiles on the gigantic heads which look out at all four points of the compass.
The temples exalt in repetition, covering every surface in mythological beings and filling shrines with Buddhas. There are hundreds of stairs to negotiate and stones tumbled all around. I think myself very privileged to have seen all this.
In contrast, I went with a small group of friends to Phare Circus. This is a project to help vulnerable young people and the performances include acrobatics, dance, music, stories and humour. The participants were obviously enjoying themselves, hamming it up and fooling around. Everyone had a good time and I can thoroughly recommend it.
More on my experiences in Cambodia to follow, as once again the WiFi connection is poor. On re-reading some of my blogs I realise they could do with better editing, but it is often a case of just writing them and getting them out as quickly as I can. I must now go and organise my next bus ride.