I’ve been at home for a while now and had time to reflect a bit about the trip and the countries I visited.
Though the region is called Indochina (from the two main cultural influences on the region), it’s much less homogeneous than you might think at first glance. Geographically they are of course very similar with jungles and mountains and very similar climates. The difference lies in the people and culture. In my experience Laos and Cambodia are very similar and Thailand, though more developed, is culturally close to them as well. Vietnam sticks out as very different from the other … Read the rest
I’m back home and I’ve had a fantastic trip! I’ve actually been at home for a few days now but I haven’t posted anything until now because it’s taken a few days to unpack my stuff and sort through all my photos. Now I’m done with all that and it’s time to write the last post.
Before I sum up my trip however, I want to do a little bit of promotion:
The people I stayed with in Mae Hong Son were so nice and so hospitable I think they deserve a special recommendation. If you (or anyone you know) are … Read the rest
I will admit there were times during my journey through Vietnam and Laos when I felt tired of riding a motorbike: the pain sitting in the same position for hours, the exposure to the elements, the constant concentration. When I left the motorbike in the care of the travel agent and booked my tickets, I thought it would be nice to take a bus for a change, just sit back, listen to some music and relax. By now I know that that’s generally not the case when taking a bus here, it’s bound to take at least one or two … Read the rest
My main reason for coming to Battambang was the bamboo train which sounded really cool. So, this morning I rented a motorbike and headed out to the train station. The train is actually more like a small rail cart consisting of a wooden frame covered with bamboo slats that rests on two axles and is driven by a little petrol engine at the back. Me and my companions, a guy from Singapore I talked to on the boat yesterday and some guys from his hostel, took our seats on the little cusions provided, and off we went along the crooked, … Read the rest
Bats, thousands, maybe even millions of them are streaming out of a large hole high up on the cliff face. They flow out in a long stream across the road, over the tree tops and out into the fields, flying back and forth and around each other at random, which makes it look like a pillar of black smoke, billowing in the wind. I stand watching, caught in a state of utter fascination.… Read the rest
We are rushing through the lush green landscape, the track shooting off through the undergrowth to some point in the far distance. The rails aren’t completely straight, they undulate slightly as if bent by the heat, and our little rail car keeps getting jolted from side to side. The noise of the wheels against the rails drowns out all other sound except for the loud TITAK TITAK every time we pass over the gap between two misaligned sections of rail. Me and my fellow passengers sit or recline on worn out cushions on a simple wooden frame covered with bamboo slats, … Read the rest
My tagline is “the journey is part of the destination” and today this was certainly the case. I wanted to go to Battambang and there is a bus but I heard that the boat, though slower and more expensive, is a worthwhile experience so I decided to try. At seven in the morning a minibus picked me up and brought me out of Siem Reap down to Chong Khneas on the shore of the Tonle Sap. There I got on the boat which was quite a simple thing made from wood, with a thumping diesel engine in the back and … Read the rest
We are sailing through a field, there’s not even a channel anymore, just a mass of floating plants, big bulbous roots under water and green stems culminating in thick, waxy, cup like leaves. The boat goes through them, crushing them beneath the prow, and our wake sends large ripples through the field. Behind me I can hear the engine straining as the propeller chews through the vegetation.… Read the rest
The channel we’re sailing along is barley wider than our boat, the edges lined with submerged trees and water living vegetation. The branches keep scraping along the sides, some even reaching in through the open windows, bending back then twanging forward in a shower of leaves and twigs as they hit the pillars supporting the roof, and I have to keep ducking to avoid getting slapped in the face. I never thought taking a regular passenger ferry would be such an adventure.… Read the rest
At the end of November I wrote that I had left my motorbike with a travel agent in order to try and sell it. Well, just a few days after leaving Laos I got a message from the travel agent saying she had sold it to some backpackers and now she wanted to know how to send me the money. I told her to send it via Western Union since they have offices all over Asia. Thinking I would be able to collect the money in few days, Yini and I continued traveling in Cambodia just like planned. When the … Read the rest