Category Laos

bad border and re-think

Champasak to Cambodian border. And back!
Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 4.31.59 PM

And our total Laos track
Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 2.26.55 PM

Last visa day and a rush down to the border
P1060427

Hotter, dryer
P1060432

Hand-pump gas sation. Diesel and about 86 octane gas
P1060434

Water buffalo cooling off
P1060464

Kids cooling off. A vivid blue shrine behind
P1060446

The Laos exit border. Fast
P1060456

Then it hits the fan.

Like a hard technical riding section, pics are the last thing we think about at the time. But anyway, we clear Laos and move 100 yards further to the Cambodian entry. Oddly, the guy in the Immigration building, no more than a small wooden booth, waves us on to Customs. His english is ok, his meaning clear: Customs first.

There’s no-one there and we wait. After 30 minutes a young guy shows up on a heavily modified, tricked-out Grom. He’s also in a wooden booth/building. He smiles, asks for my papers. Looking at them, he asks for my Carnet. But Cambodia isn’t a Carnet country. I say “Cambodia isn’t a Carnet country”. He smiles and waves a small stack of Carnet stubs at me (he’s extracted them from others). I’m really, really surprised. I have fucked up I think. For the first since not knowing the 90 day exit before renewal rule in Guatemala. My Carnet’s expired and I don’t need one until after it’s renewed.

He doesn’t give me any hint that he’s looking for a bribe. The worst mistake you can make with an honest official is get a bribe offer wrong. Jail. Cambodian jail, lol! (I know two riders who’ve spent nights in jail, hilarious)

Then I remember a horror story about how a Cambodian border official had screwed some rider over, trapped him between borders, and had confiscated his bike, permanently. So I got on Lucinda and got out of there fast.

I get back to the hotel at dark and find out I’ve been screwed. No Carnet required. I’ve hit the worst border in the most corrupt country in SE Asia and got played. This would not normally be a problem and normally I’d laugh, but this time we have a problem. My visa has now expired.

So having to exit Laos before it gets any worse, the next morning I head for the Thai border, which conveniently is only 90K away. I’ve emailed my friend that our travel plans are delayed. She crossed without problems.

Slightly nervous about my day-late Laos exit, we get across with only minor problems, like Customs wanting to us to buy insurance first, which for a moto couldn’t be found without a long cab ride into the next town, leaving the bike unattended. We promised him we would do it the next day and he kindly and unusually accepted.

The ride from Champasak to Ubon Ratchithani
Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 4.33.25 PM

Into Ubon
P1060547

While we mull over things, we tour a couple of temples
P1060514

This is modern and interesting. Wat Phra That Nong Bua
P1060496

Sending money up a string. I sent up 20 baht
P1060502


P1060526


P1060529

In Ubon I have a very serious chat with myself. I have to go back to Vancouver at some point soon for my Pakistan visa and to possibly assist with my new Carnet. But this ride has taken far longer than expected and will take much longer to complete. I’ve missed Christmas at home for the 3rd time due to visa realities, despite 4 return trips, and I miss my (adult) daughters. So I ponder something I’ve been thinking about. Going home for a strategic break in the big picture.

Or do I cut back across a reputable border into Cambodia, just south of where I am? How does my friend figure into this?

Anyway.

I never post pictures of where I stay, mainly because it would add to the content when the objective is to streamline it. But here’s a pic of Brent, ex-Peace Corps who with his wife built the Outside Inn in Ubon Ratchathani. Stay here, the food is brilliant and the huge pints cold. We had plenty of good discussions and more than a few beers as I came to my big decision
DSC03063

OK, so now we’re headed for Bangkok, just a couple of days away.

Ubon to Nakhon Ratchasima
Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 4.27.04 PM

Having made a decision I start the quick ride directly to Bangkok. It’s not a great road. Big traffic through an unattractive part of the country.

We stop here for a break
DSC03070

A vast lake of lilies not in bloom
DSC03064

Kids ride around the park while I take photos
DSC03074

Later, a huge and sudden thundershower, over in one minute. Here I’m hiding under a tree
DSC03076

And through the outskirts of Nakhon Ratchasima. Don’t come here, unless you’re headed to Ubon
DSC03081

to Champasak

Thakhek to Champasak
Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.05.28 PM

And a bigger scale. You can see we’re tracking the river. We think it’s cool that we’ve followed it off-and-on since northern Yunnan. It’s extraordinary and we love it
Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.05.51 PM

Otherwise, it’s been a dry, dusty ride down. But we stopped at this small lake
P1060142


P1060148

Very hot, low humidity so not so bad
P1060167

Mekong alluvial flats. Must be an incredible sight in rainy season
P1060170

To our destination, an amazing spot for Christmas
P1060178

The day after arriving we head off on Lucinda to Wat Phu (or Vat Phou) past this lake
P1060201

Our first Khmer Temple and it’s almost beyond belief. The site is chosen because (out of sight here) a mountain top peaks in the shape of a linga, a phallus shape. So lingas line the avenue to the beginning of a climb. It’s fantastic. Worth a read, the wiki link
P1060292

The first set of steps
P1060281


P1060275


P1060267

For some reason we don’t take more photos through the various levels. But way at the top, on a large ledge, is a stunning 11th century sanctuary
P1060264

The 900 year-old reliefs sheltered under doorways.
P1060246

Shiva!
P1060252

Just a little higher is a cliff
P1060230

Under the cliff a trough runs water into stone container bathing a small linga under the water. This is the original feature of the Wat
P1060233

Small sticks are placed under overhangs, supporting the vast mass above as a reminder of something
P1060235

A few hundred feet away, a young couple pray to Shiva
P1060240

The view down. My pictures do no justice to the beauty and impact of this place
P1060255

Back to the town of Champasak. A lovely small town
P1060189

School’s out
P1060350

But generally the Laos pedal under umbrellas. Not only for protection against the sun, but also protection against darkening. In SE Asia, the whiter the skin, in their eyes, the more attractive
P1060426

We’re going to be in our place for a while, so we spend a fair bit of time out on the river. This is our usual boat. No, we never use the chairs
P1060305

Shelves cut into the riverbank for planting in dry season
P1060339


P1060344

Our swimming spot
P1060315

The only ‘beach’ for miles apparently. We park right on the point
IMG_1850

Teams of snails race along the waterline upstream quickly, for snails. Who knows why
P1060329

Unable to find out what this creature is. We saw him twice
P1060347

Further along our beach
P1060317

Night on the river
P1060371


P1060367

My Billabong shirt, gone
P1060307

Then one morning, my friend went into town on her scooter. Soon after I had a call from the front desk, she was on the phone. She was lying at the side of the road and had hit a cow.

After a fast rescue, the hospital 30 k’s away. A hairline crack in a shoulder bone, a nasty slice up her arm. They were fast, efficient but the equipment was a little desperate. For pain killers they give us take-away morphine, which we thought was a plus
P1060360

Our plans on hold, we spent a week here in Champasak, until the day my visa expired, which took away any margin of error.

The Christmas Lucinda shot
P1060399

to Thakhek

Vientiane to Thakhek
Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.14.30 PM

Now we’re running parallel to the Mekong again. We cross rivers like this flowing east to west into the giant river all day
P1050961

Dry, dusty towns every twenty minutes or so. The further south we go the more the villages have basic services. Nowhere are modern as Thailand though
P1050962

We stop here to walk down to the great river
P1050976

Along a path, hoping to see snakes before we get too south
P1050968

It’s so still it’s sometimes hard to believe the river is flowing
P1050994

This fellow is towing a net as he walks slowly downstream. If you click on this you’ll see the floats
P1050998

Despite the every-browning of the landscape, the river banks are emerald-green
P1060004

A huge river drains in
P1060020

This pretty flower. The only time we’ve seen it
P1060025

A few crags, not many. Lunch was across the street
P1060027

Laos is quiet, always
P1060030

And into Thakhek. The waterfront street had about a dozen beautiful, restored French buildings
P1060037

The rest of the town was in disrepair but was beautiful
P1060089

Tree and monks
P1060100

Monks on bikes. The best thing ever. Which reminds me. The girls here change into ‘onesies’ at about dusk and scooter around in brightly colored and patterned fleece. Really odd, but nice.

Another thing about boys and girls, and men and women, in Laos is that there are zero public displays of affection. Beyond puberty, not even holding hands. And never ever will you see someone kiss someone else. It’s just bad manners, like looking untidy, no matter how poor
P1060096

As it happens, I met a French girl and have been travelling with her. (Normally this topic wouldn’t be included in this ride report but it starts to have an unexpected impact on the ride logistics, as you’ll see). She gets a bus from A to B while I ride, then at her destination rents a scooter. Today we head off on Lucinda into the country. Lucinda likes travelling without her panniers once in a while and always when there’s a passenger on the back. Wow she’s a slim bike without her full gear
P1060076

The route. It’s part of ‘the loop’. I would have done it all but plans have changed with Christmas approaching
Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 4.40.02 PM

Hard to describe how beautiful the ride up the valley was
P1060069

We went to a deep cave. A few hundred yards before the entrance a kid stops, says “guide” and holds out his hand. We give him the equivalent of about 50 cents as he charges ahead, even though we can see it clearly
P1060053

Here he shows off his balancing skills
P1060051

We ride for another 40 miles up to what we resume is a new reservoir. Drowned trees everywhere
P1060058

Through limestone gorges
P1060080


P1060082

And back to Thakhek. This evening we see a two young guys on a scooter brought down by a man on the street below. The scooter crashed, spilling the riders, and the man starts in on the boys with the most violent attack we’ve ever seen. He’s got a 4 or 5 foot piece of wood and it looks like he’s trying to kill them. The difference between hurting and killing is pretty clear, clubbing them full-force relentlessly after they’re unconscious. Fortunately enough people stop him, but most are scared to approach. Over the last few years we’ve seen occasional violence, and I only include this story because it’s such a shocking contrast to their quiet, reserved, shy usual nature
P1060085

Vientiane

Brief post

Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 4.05.23 PM

Plenty of crossings as we rode beside a lake
P1050818

Lunchtime at a chaotic market. There’s an event going on somewhere here
P1050799

Nearly all fish here
P1050738

Spiced, compressed and dried
P1050743

Plus tiny fish that didn’t smell so good…
P1050742

We followed the market through a long tunnel
P1050745

Down to the lake
P1050751

Rowing!
P1050771

Kids had short races in mini-boats with mini-bowsprits
P1050779

But no sign of the big boats about to start, so we left.

It’s been getting progressively drier, despite the morning-after rain filled fields
P1050829

The road has been the worst yet in Laos. We riding visor-down because of the dust which makes us feel claustrophobic as usual
P1050853

These are everywhere. They’re the equivalent of the truck in most of the country
P1050858

Approaching the Lao’s capital city, Vientiane
P1050841

Phat That Luang temple. Perhaps the most important temple in Laos. It’s a stupa, which means someone, probably a monk is buried there. For an example of how complex the histories are of some of these monuments, here’s a clip from wiki:

*** Pha That Luang according to the Lao people was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 3rd century. Buddhist missionaries from the Mauryan Empire are believed to have been sent by the Emperor Ashoka, including Bury Chan or Praya Chanthabury Pasithisak and five Arahata monks who brought a holy relic (believed to be the breastbone) of Lord Buddha to the stupa.[2] It was rebuilt in the 13th century as a Khmer temple which fell into ruin.

In the mid-16th century, King Setthathirat relocated his capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and ordered construction of Pha That Luang in 1566.[3] It was rebuilt about 4 km from the centre of Vientiane at the end of That Luang Road and named Pha That Luang.[2] The bases had a length of 69 metres each and was 45 metres high, and was surrounded by 30 small Stupas.

In 1641, a Dutch envoy of the Dutch East India Company, Gerrit van Wuysoff, visited Vientiane and was received by King Sourigna Vongsa at the temple, where he was, reportedly, received in a magnificent ceremony. He wrote that he was particularly impressed by the “enormous pyramid and the top was covered with gold leaf weighing about a thousand pounds”.[4] However, the stupa was repeatedly plundered by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese.

Pha That Luang was destroyed by the Thai invasion in 1828, which left it heavily damaged and left abandoned. It was not until 1900 that the French restored to its original design based on the detailed drawings from 1867 by the French architect and explorer Louis Delaporte.[3] However the first attempt to restore it was unsuccessful and it had to be redesigned and then reconstructed in the 1930s.[3] During the Franco-Thai War, Pha That Luang was heavily damaged during a Thai air raid. After the end of World War II, Pha That Luang was reconstructed ***

Anyway
P1050871

We went off to see Xieng Khuan. It’s modern. Built by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat in 1958
P1050920


P1050930

Nothing really on Ventiane itself, we dashed in and dashed out. Plus there was a trip complication explained in a coming post.

to Vang Vieng

Phonsavan to Vang Vieng
Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.34.45 PM

Riding through Laos (despite the terrible road conditions about 60% of the time) is peaceful and beautiful. The roads, roadside villages and green are a bit like parts of Central America, but bigger and easier. In CA you aways have that unknown factor, the potential for someone or something going wrong. Not here. The flip is that if you break down big here you have a big problem. If you can’t fix your bike yourself you’ll have to truck it to Thailand or go to my ’emergency plan’ (more on this soon too)
P1050534

The ridge villages you ride through
P1050538

Then something crazy happens. I round a corner and there’s this huge pack of big adventure bikes. The ones upstream of where we pull in
P1050527

And downstream
P1050522

They’re Thai, from Bangkok, on great bikes and bubbling with happy, lol. They’re celebrating the King’s birthday (seems everyone in Thailand does this) with a 5 day blast through a convenient section of Laos. They have not only a superb support vehicle with parts and mechanic, but a police escort. If you’re going to do it, do it big they think. Really fantastic.

They make me a coffee from the truck
P1050529

I would have loved to ride with them for a day, I think afterwards.

Then, after they ride off, an hour later the views are like nothing we’ve ever seen
P1050552

Sun in the wrong place for the pic, we ride through these abrupt huge limestone peaks
P1050564

There’s a surprising stop. Modern, two restaurants
P1050601

On a big glass plate wall there are ride stickers. No vanity stickers (a subject we’ll also be writing about soon) but SE Asian group/ride stickers from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and one from Laos. Almost better than anything else, they tell the story of the fun these local ride clubs have.

Just a bunch
P1050598

This club has been around
P1050589

The Laos club
P1050590

There’s no compromising or Mr Nice Guy. But they don’t mean it. They just pick up the flavour from bike clubs in the States and go with it
P1050584

My favorite. An ADV scooter club! Wish I’d seen them
P1050595

The dream-like views continue
P1050617

We ride through this valley
P1050621

And then the sun is a bit behind us
P1050638

The final 30 miles was all like this
P1050644

Into Vang Vieng, famous for the incredible situation
P1050720

Into the town proper.

It’s a complete dump. A backpacker destination, catering to that market niche and famous worldwide for it
P1050700

Not great
P1050684

This is the big thing. Or was the big thing. You rent a tube and get driven upstream a few miles
P1050681

Then you drift down, stopping to drink at the riverside bars.

They used to sell a drink here called Lao-Lao, 45% proof, at a price of $2 a litre. Seriously. Plus there’s pot everywhere but all kinds of mushroom drinks which need a ton of caution, not something backpackers are famous for.

In the worst year, 2011, 27 kids died. They drowned, dove off things onto rocks, did stupid things. According to a Guardian article, the hospital here gets around 10 injured backpackers a day.

So anyway there’s been a big clamp down in various ways to protect them against themselves and now it’s a bit quieter apparently, but is still a dump.

Here’s a riverside bar. You paddle up in your tire, grab a floating table and get drinks from behind
P1050689

Some very good bridges
P1050724

oops
P1050662

This is the common vehicle in the countryside. It’s used to plow fields and carry stuff around, everything. Here carrying a load of ladies across the bridge. The umbrellas? 2 reasons for that, one obvious, one surprising. Later
P1050668

There they go. Excellent sight
P1050673

Another bridge, to the floating bars. It’s early so the drinking hasn’t started
P1050687

A tight fit for 2 scooters
P1050696

A truck river crossing, excellent
P1050733

Plain of Jars

Luang Prabang (again) to Phonsavan
Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.04.52 PM

OK, our second attempt to get to Phonsavan correctly.

More of these giant lilies just out-of-town
P1050215

Close up. Same variety, or species, as the ones at the fish farm on Sumatra
P1050216

We stop to see a caged fighting cock. The lady is crushing sugar cane in a press
P1050218

He’s a beauty. Skinny and mean-looking, pacing his cage
P1050221

The road is in terrible shape but the views are non-stop
P1050226

The road ahead with the usual linear village. There’s a feeling that the country is empty, for the first time in SE Asia. Example:

Laos – area 236,800 sq km (nearly the same as the UK) population 6.7 million

Thailand – area 513,120 sq km, population 67.0 million

and, for fun,

Island of Java – area 128,300 sq km, population 142.0 million, lol

There are only a few large towns and in between occasional villages that feel like they are about 50 to 200 people on average. The capital, Vientiane has a population of only about 680,000
P1050233

A large village
P1050237

This truck in a robust cage, somehow works in this banana plantation
P1050239

Nice
P1050245

And talking about flowers, that shrub on the right, the poinsettia, does very well here, almost forming small trees. It’s native to Mexico and Central America. It’s the most common flowering shrub we see
P1050249

That’s our road. It couldn’t be better except there are long stretches of ruin
P1050251

Riding from one valley to another, again
P1050259

River village
P1050267

To my hotel in Phonsavan. The front gate is made from a bomb casing and propped up with old machine guns. Story in a previous postIMG_1797

A bomb casing/planter by the front door
IMG_1800

Inside
P1050513

50% off topic, also on the wall is this pic of US soldiers with a monster fish taken from the Mekong near here
P1050515

Another munitions graveyard in town
P1050278

Soviet tank turret
P1050277

This province, Phonsavan in there somewhere, and a bombing map of areas hit hardest by the 270,000,000 cluster bombs dropped on Laos. legaciesofwar.org says Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in history
P1050271

A sign in the museum
P1050381

Another, of the whole country, and the ugliest photo insert in three years of posting. Standards are slipping
P1050379

But here’s the main reason we’re here. This whole area is referred to as the Plain of Jars. The ‘Jars’ here date 500BC to 500AD.

Most of the archeological heavy-lifting was done by a French woman, Madeleine Colani in the 1930’s. She is almost revered around here, you hear the name and see it printed frequently.

Walking to Site 1, as she classified it
P1050371

Jars, from 4 to 6 feet tall. Approximately 2000 have been found in 3 main areas
P1050318

They’re carved from rock as soft as sandstone and as hard as granite
P1050317

Carefully noted
P1050323

Reading about this, there’s a fair bit of speculation about them. Questions, like:

How did they carve them from granite? Only a few are granite, most are quite soft

What is the meaning of them? M Colani’s main theory is convincing. When someone died they were placed in a jar and a cap loosely placed over it. Maybe a year or so later the body had been ‘eroded’ down to a skeleton by normal natural processes, like bugs, etc.. Then the remains were removed and taken to sites like the cave below where they were burned to ashes. M Colani found skeletal ashes in the cave below, for instance.

That’s (most likely) that. But there are complications. For more, the plain of jars wiki

Site 1 1/2

A cave, next to the next jar cluster
P1050349

Immediately we see this exposed comb above the entrance. Wow, never seen this before. It’s the Asian honey bee Apis cerana
P1050332

And below a big terrific mass of bees
P1050338

Inside the cave, don’t know what that is
P1050341

Beautiful. Cave mound in the backgroundP1050358


P1050353

On the way to Site 2 we see workers slowly going over the ground for UXO’s. Unexploded bombs
P1050392

Up a hill
P1050397


P1050398


P1050405


P1050411


P1050425

One of the few caps that remain. Most were later taken away by villagers for grinding rice
P1050427

A wonderful walk to Site 3. This would be harder in wet season. These rice fields will stay fallow until June. The season varies from province to province, but this area only gets one rice crop a year
P1050465

An old bomb crater
P1050478


P1050431

This bug was inside a jar. About 1″ across
P1050439


P1050468

On the way back we stopped at this village
P1050485

Bomb casings support this house
P1050499

Old Soviet tank turret
P1050503

The Craters (falang) pub in town.
P1050509

The day’s wanderings, with guide and truck
Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.31.14 PM

oops

Lucinda thinks we’re good planners. Day’s nicely mapped out, destination lodgings known when needed and all the t’s crossed.

It’s a system from the moment we’re out of bed to when we crash for the night, refined and tweaked over the years. We spend a lot of time thinking about it, even the exact way the duffle is packed and unpacked. New ideas come along once in a while and that’s part of the pleasure of a long riding project. It’s a little crazy. I know a few other long distance riders who are like this. Dan T and Helge, for two.

But today’s going to be different. I’m running two sets of GPS maps on my unit. One, downloaded OSM tiles, and the other a local-knowledge enhanced version I got from a ride cafe in Chiang Mai on a card. I set out my route, tracked it on the laptop, transferred it to the unit and off went. But had screwed up.

Anyway, a nice start
P1050128

These really good white-flowered bog plant beside the road in places
P1050133

A great road
P1050136

The usual villages
P1050145

Gas in bottles. we haven’t seen this since Sumatra
P1050152

Couldn’t be better
P1050157

This orange inflorescence was 2 feet tall
P1050159


P1050163

Magic
P1050167

Stopped to watch young guys loading heavy sacks onto a truck. Not a lot happening mostly in Laos so this seemed interesting enough
P1050168

Two girls making a record of the weight of each sack
P1050173

They’re these. not sure what they are, haven’t asked yet
P1050176

Side street
P1050183

Nice pond
P1050187

Mom and kids carrying firewood. The first time we’ve seen kids this young do this
P1050192 - Version 2

The road turns to graded dirt
P1050195

Through 1 of 3 slides today
P1050197

Love these bridges
P1050202

Into this village.

My GPS is telling me we’ve got 95 miles to go and the road is getting skinnier. While I have a bottle of water I do a quick check of the route. Hum, I think, we should be going south, not east by now. I haven’t been thinking about it, just riding and enjoying the surroundings. Scaling out on the unit, I see we’re on the wrong road! Never ever have I been so wrong for so long. But no biggee, I’ll see what the road looks like on the map.P1050209

Here’s the GPS track, dirt from here on.
Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 2.41.28 PM

And here’s the map. You can see the yellow road just stops, cropped so you can see it in the same place as the GPS track above. Shows no road
P1050211

But the road doesn’t stop, it just turns into a small dirt track that was on my other GPS file. We haven’t allowed for this and wouldn’t started earlier. So, what to do? Continue, not knowing what the conditions will be? Or turn around and start again tomorrow? it’s noon. In the worst case, if the track gets bad, and there’s no mud it’ll take 4 hours+. The GPS says sunset is at 5:40. No problem unless we get a shower and hit mud. So thinking about Rule #1, the one that’s got us this far, we turn back for Luang Prabang, not all all unhappy, we have the time (if not the tire rubber, post on this soon) and it was a great ride.

Luang Prabang, water three ways

Brief post, more to come

1 Crossing water

The bamboo bridges in Laos are temporary structures for a good reason. The water here, for instance, will be 15′ higher when the rainy season gets underway. Then the bridges wash away and they’ll rebuild them months later
P1040667

A monk crosses
P1040678

Then me
P1040680

Sketchy, beautiful
P1040682

2 Falling water

Took a tuk tuk out of town one day
P1040844

On the way we stopped at a butterfly farm
P1040839

Hard to photograph
P1040822

This is our destination. We walk up the river
P1040868


P1040862

To the Kuang Si falls. Hard to see from the pic, but they’re 200′ tall. Worth the visit
P1040855

3 Up water

Up the Mekong to the Pak Ou caves. What a treat
Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 3.59.33 PM

I was disappointed to find out the lovely boats for the 2 hour ride up the Mekong sat about 10 people. I really didn’t want to spend all day with a crowd. So I sprung 350,000 Laos ($42 US) for a private boat. A huge amount here, but the alternative was hell
P1050117

The benefits
P1050069

Open air. Spot the Reefs
P1050068

Happy
P1040901


P1040910

It looks like farming moves onto the river flats at this time of year. Lots of activity: crops, cattle, fishing
P1040906

A fellow rows two sleeping friends downstream on a bamboo raft
P1040912

We pull up at one of those tourist traps specifically set up for farangs (whites)
P1040915

Distilled hooch. Poisonous snakes and scorpions inside. The King Cobra is all over the place here, plus the feared green tree snake and two sorts of viper. I don’t buy one but I have a sip of a cobra sample. Not bad
P1040923

Only one patch of rapids on the river
P1040955

Approaching limestone crags, we didn’t know lots more of this was a few days ahead
P1040962

Two hours later, this
P1040964

It’s the cave
P1040967

Pull up to a float
P1040969

Up the steps
P1050013

The cave entrance
P1050010

I did a little Googling and couldn’t find out how old this is
P1040979


P1040994

Hundreds of Buddhas anywhere they can be rested
P1040985

Looking out
P1040996

Up some more steps
P1050017

A long way, man
P1050018

To a second cave
P1050032

Inside
P1050029

Then back to my private launch, yay
P1050035

A bee colony high in the trees, that white dot
P1050050

Flashes of monk-orange
P1050104

Back at dusk. Just perfect
P1050110

This was on the Napo in the Ecuadorian Amazon, similar
IMG_0216