Swapping Sicknesses

No trekking for me
Lumpy throat, sniff, sweat
Sleeping all day

March 6th, 2011
Since Hanoi, Lucie and I seem to have been taking turns getting slightly sick. Nothing serious, just minor colds, a slight disappearing ear ache, a few small food poisonings, and a nasty head cold. Just as it looked like I was kicking the last remnants of my head cold so we could both enjoy this sleepy village and go on treks and runs in the villages around, Lucie ended up getting it. She slept all day and composed this Haiku and is now feeling much better. Hopefully she can kick the cold faster than I have.

Tat Lo

Naked kids, wet backs
Splashing, sliding, waterfalls
Joys of river youth

March 5th, 2011
A series of three waterfalls run through this sleepy village. It has a couple of resorts and seems like a great place to finish off our recoveries (Lucie seems to have captured my head cold last night). Incredibly hot during the day, the only way to make the heat bearable is to go jump into the nearby river. Neighborhood kids seem to go do it every day – the older ones doing backflips off ledges, the younger ones playing in smaller pools and sliding down a smooth section of rock.

Culinary Differences

Oh my poor tastebuds
Danced in Vietnam, burned in Lao
Where is Highway 4?

We wrote this Haiku after eating a small bit of an incredibly spicy green papaya salad. We had specifically asked for medium spicy and we cringe to think of what normal spiciness would have been like. Highway 4 was an amazingly tasty joint, in the hip section of Hanoi. It is actually a chain and they now have a few restaurants in Hanoi and one opening in Saigon shortly. We are hoping that they go international and some Vietnamese expats open one in Palo Alto.

Travel Planning

Where to? What’s next? How?
Two empty passport pages
Kayak, Travelfish

March 3rd, 2011
While I lay in bed recovering from my head cold, Lucie was spending the day on the internet looking for plane tickets onward from southeast asia and making plans. One of the biggest constraints is that Lucie only has two pages left in her passport for visas. While I was able to get more pages added to mine while we were in Hanoi, it seems things aren’t so simple for Germans to get pages added to their passports. It will require either 2-3 weeks of us staying still in some capital somewhere or we will have to cut things short and head back to Europe. The other factor in consideration is that Lucie’s year long India visa runs out March 22nd- so we either need to get there in a hurry, find a way to extend the visa, or wait awhile on a beach somewhere as Lucie gets a new passport and visa – oh the tragedy that would be!

Recovery

In bed under towel
Water spews from AC
I’m getting better.

March 3rd, 2011
When we left Hoi An in Vietnam I had a fever and was recovering from a bout of food poisioning. Unfortunately our visas were due to expire the next day so we had to get going. Though the fever quickly subsided I was exhausted all day, and on the subsequent 3 days of bus rides I developed a nasty head cold that left my nose running non-stop. Finally, in Pakse, we had a day where we did not have to move and I was determined to recover. We found a new, slightly less mosquito infested places that was also considerably cheaper. While it had nice light, the cheapness of the place shown through in the lack of sheets on the bed (it had a towel to cover us instead) and in the fact that the AC spewed high velocity tiny droplets of water on me every 15 minutes or so. Fortunately I had the towel-cum-blanket to protect me from the spray. I slept and read all day and was feeling markedly better by evening.

Baby Bird

Baby bird on ground
Two cultures one sad feeling
Lao mom, son, falang

March 2nd 2011
On our meanderings around Pakse looking for some place to relax and avoid the heat we came upon a small baby bird which had fallen out of its nest. It sat on the sidewalk awaiting its fate. Lucie and I thought about returning it to its nest high above, but we both heard that a mother bird would reject newborns if they smelled humans on them (neither of us are 100% true, or if it applies to Laotian birds). Nevertheless the nest was too high and I was getting over a head cold and could not climb.

A Lao mother came by with her teenage son. Seeing us look at the baby bird the Laotian mother went over and picked it up. It hopped feebly in her hands. She looked at her son and then at the nest high above, and both of them determined that it was too high for him to attempt to return. She had to put it back where it was, away from the nearby ants. We then all moved on helplessly, returning the bird to its fate. Though us falang (Vietnamese for foreigners) and the mom and the son scarcely said a word between us for the few minutes that we were there, there was certainly some communication in our facial expressions, and I believe we must have been thinking and feeling similar things.

Salachampa

French villa hotel
Elegant but infested
Hunting mosquitos

March 1st, 2011
Since much of Attapeu seemed to be either in decay or in the process of being constructed, and since there were no tasty eating establishments, we quickly went on to the more central Pakse where we hoped we could arrange more interesting activities. We picked the promising looking Salachampa Hotel in the center of town which had once been a French villa. It was tastefully decorated, and had many elegant pots filled with plants and water outside our room. This proved to be perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes though, which provided good sport for over an hour before we fell asleep that night. We caught a good ten of them, each one a bit harder to find than the one before, and when we caught the last one we thought we must have them all. We sealed the room as best we could and went to sleep. By the morning though a horde of newcomers were flying around our bags and we checked out.

Mai Linh

Mai Linh, our safe bet
Crossed Lao border, jungle view
Relaxed sleepy towns

Febuary 28th 2011
Throughout Vietnam there were taxis whose meters would charge at twice the rate, taxis who would drive in a big triangle to let the meter run longer, and taxis who if you negotiated the fare before hand you could go 3 times cheaper by pitting one taxi drivers rate against another. Then there was the Mai Linh taxis. They were dependable, with a cheap meter rate, and drove straight to the destination (we have a GPS to check to make sure they do :). Our friend Vang told us about them in Hanoi and we went with them ever since. They also ran a bus company Mai Linh Express (Looking up Mai Linh website online they seem to be one of the bigger conglomerates doing not just transportation but construction, washing powder and who knows what else) which we took both from Danang to Kon Tum, and then from Kon Tum over the border to Attapeu, Laos.

The road over the border was windy and jungly crossing over the paths that were once part of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Once arriving in Attapeu we were stuck at how much more laid back it was to any town in bustling Vietnam.