Dedicated to a wonderful Mother Jean Noble 31/5/1929 - 20/8/2007 - may we never take our mothers for granted. - Goodbye Mum

LAOS PAGE 2 - DECEMBER 2008

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Laos Information - Jan 09

Prices in Aussie Dollars

Sunday 14th December Baan Hai to Baan Hai south.
Approx.
3.02 k's Average Speed 9.61 kph Cycling time 0Hr(s) 19 Min. Max speed. 19kph Max temp 25°C
Terrain:
Undulating Road Conditions: Poor Overnight Accom: (80,000 Lao Kip) $14.50 Standard, Good

Left around lunch time, due in part to Mal's persistent flu, which IS getting much better – the other part is last nights accommodation was a bit upsetting. The “guest-house” is a brothel, as a general rule this is accepted as part of life. The comings and goings went on all night, there are no keys to the rooms, however, you can bolt from the inside... Throughout the night our door was “tried” and when access was deemed impossible, it was accepted. It did disturb us often, all night.

The two girls in this picture are “beer-girls”, they “entertain” men and collect a commission on the beer consumed. The girl on my left (Grey top) is 18 yrs old. She can neither read nor write and has never been to school... She is quite dependant on alcohol – even at this tender age. We were unable to get to know the other girl, as she was mostly “otherwise engaged”. They have given permission to have their picture put on line.



We spoke with her at length and was both horrified at her terrible circumstances, Our talk with her, began the afternoon before – she was quite drunk. The next day she was rather shy, which is not uncommon after being drunk the day before.

There is incredible sadness in their stories – both girls. The poverty, the dreadful circumstances that – some may say – “force” these lovely girls into this demeaning profession.

The story does not end here, we talked with this (bellow) young girl (Who is NOT working). She can go to school, she is 13 yrs old and hopes to become an accountant. However, she is clearly in “moral” danger, working with these girls, serving in the bar, and being constantly “propositioned” by drunken low life's.


In her hand is a paper on which, she has written her address, we WILL write to her, however, the “Money God” does not favour us, so there “may” be little we can do. Scholarships DO exist in Australia. As we all know Australia is dreadfully bureaucratic, there is little hope that we can navigate the red tape – if it is at all possible – but we will try. As Lee speaks her language, it may be helpful, one never knows – unless one tries.

We have met Mum & Dad and said NOTHING about any hope for help, to them. They did indicate a hope that their child can find a way out. It was so obvious she possesses a greater than average intellect, BUT, We DID NOT get her hopes up, that would have been VERY unfair – will see what happens with our letters.

Feeling MUCH better after this unscheduled rest day, we can now make our way towards a border, not sure which one at this stage – Cambodia or Vietnam.... But, there is still a lot of Laos left yet..... Catchya Later....

I cannot email at the moment.... Thank you to my family and friends for all the birthday wishes

Monday 15th December Baan Hai South to Thabuk
Approx.
29.04 k's Average Speed 13.36 kph Cycling time 2 Hr(s) 10 Min. Max speed. 42 kph Max temp 26°C
Terrain:
Undulating Road Conditions: Poor Overnight Accom: (70,000 Lao Kip) $12.75 Standard, Good

On the road again, feeling 90% better, we stopped for lunch. Lee enjoys “Somtam” a spicy Thai salad dish and wanted to try the Lao varient – it id fiery hot and looks delicious.....


Lots of fruit and veggies, peanuts, rice noodle and of course chillies – lots of chillies :-)... This lovely village food cost only AUD$0.80c. I chose fried veggies (no oil) with an egg. Plus we had a small bunch of bananas. - Great lunch.

Loads of kids joined us for lunch.... which is increasingly par for the course...



They are great kids, respect your gear and your space. We really enjoyed their laughter and company....

As we pass through the villages we can see the typical homes are made from local materials, they are VERY basic offering none of the comforts.


The “bails” that you see at the bottom right



are building materials, they are roofs, walls, etc... Weaved by the villagers and sold to provide a subsistance income.

Another typical example of a small dwelling......


Difficult for the elderly to climb up....

Tuesday 16th December Thabuk to Pakxan
Approx.
57.40 k's Average Speed 14.12 kph Cycling time 4 Hr(s) 4Min. Max speed. 35 kph Max temp 29°C
Terrain:
Undulating Road Conditions: Poor Overnight Accom: (50,000 Lao Kip) $9.50 Standard, Very Good

On the road today we were presented with (for us) a disturbing sight, a Dog being BBQ'd.

Both Lee and myself eat animals, so we have no right to condemn another person for their choice of meat. Pigs are said to be more intelligent than dogs and the list goes on.

In my “world” the Dog as a very special place, I have had a Dog as a companion for most of my life – so I guess I was more disturbed than others would/will be. We did NOT take a picture of the barbecuing...... Simply greeted the guy and left.

I know there are a lot of pictures of homes on this page, but most really are like this... The “little room” is what a typical Aussie home would have had when I was young – out the back and down the garden.... That hole in the wall is just that – a hole. The door is on the side.


We stopped and talked with many people on todays ride, cycling only 4 of the nine hours on the road. A fascinating day, rolling into our destination just before sunset...


Pakxan is a sizable city by Lao standards and this is the main street, just south of the town centre. Tomorrow is a rest day, in part just to complete my recuperation and to explore this city....

Wednesday 17th December Pakxan
Approx. k's Average Speed kph Cycling time Hr(s) Min. Max speed. kph Max temp °C
Terrain: Undulating Road Conditions: Poor Overnight Accom: (50,000 Lao Kip) $9.50 Standard, Very Good

Rest and explore day... One o the largest buildings in town is this new “Disco” - it is well lit up at night....


Not much more today.............. Catchya Later

Thursday 17th December Pakxan to Pakkading
Approx. 41.46 k's Average Speed 13.26 kph Cycling time 3 Hr(s) 8 Min. Max speed. 42 kph Max temp 29 °C
Terrain: Undulating/hilly Road Conditions: Poor Overnight Accom: (80,000 Lao Kip) $13.50 Standard, Very Good

A stop or lunch, revealed a “gay” run restaurant. The did everything to make us welcome, good food, information about the route, gave us a new map, could not have been more helpful.... The staff agreed to a photo or two and allowed us to post them on our site....


Only two girls in this picture – Lee and the girl on your right as you view this... The other people identify as either sex.....

It really can be a little hard to pick and perhaps this is what makes this complex human phenomena so hard to quantify....


s/he decided to pose showing a shoulder....

Of course they all wanted to try the bikes.....


Our sincere thanks for their wonderful hospitality....

We cycled on and saw this young girl waist deep in mud... She emerged with a fish in her right hand.... The pot you see there contains the fish they have harvested...


She put the still “flapping” fish into the pot...

Would ANY of us reading this be able to survive this level of hardship??? I take my hat off to their collective resourcefulness... The contents of that pot/basket are so important to the protein needs of the family....

I genuinely respect you young lady and hope our world can improve your future – somehow?

Catchya Later......


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