So, picture this…you’re on a local bus (a rickety off-white 16 seater circa 1983) from Pakse to the Four Thousand Islands for three hours in the searing heat, and the next thing the bus comes to a sudden halt on it’s dusty bumpy highway! What I imagine are daughter, mother and granddaughter, in that order, clamber on to the bus and proffer their barbecued offerings of chicken on a stick! Now we ate some of this in the street market in Luang Prabang and like the fish you saw in a recent post it was fresh and delicious. Sadly this chicken on a stick was a different story. It looked more like a means of self defence that a foodstuff as they climbed over passengers manically rubbing the chicken inadvertently on people’s hair, seats and clothes. It was rather surreal and although we are all for supporting the local retailers, we had to resist their goods on this occasion…I just love the look on the grandmother’s face in the bottom right corner of the picture.
I’ve encountered a fair few French folk in my time and I have to say, my favourite so far is Jeremy Croce. Not only is Jeremy an absolute hoot to hang out with but he possesses the best French laugh I have ever heard! I’ve got a recording that I made of a group of young Laos boys who I brought together as an impromptu choir all imitating the “Awe hawh awe hawh awe hawh awe hawh!!!” on Phu Si mountain, which Jeremy had a right laugh at! See you in France one day Jeremy as I simply must hear that laugh again! In the photo above, I simply love the way he is literally hanging out of the tuk tuk with a fag hanging out of his mouth in true French style!
Suzie, another Dutch friend, was quite something in the bowling hall. Strike after strike…I did wonder if she was sponsored by Adidas?! You can read her blog (if you understand Dutch) here http://myrthesuzanne.wordpress.com/ I also have Suzie to thank for helping me to get my blog up and running in Chiang Mai 😮
As we sauntered down Phu Si mountain after sunset we passed a young buddhist monk and I greeted him and asked to make his portrait. He gracefully and tranquilly obliged. The more I look at this image, the more I like it. The look of serenity in his eyes, the calm poise of his lips and body and the sweeping colourful bright orange robe that adorns him…
One of the repeating patterns I see on my travels is the quest by myself and my fellow travellers to have “individual experiences”. Certainly there are folk out there who are happy to turn up, see and do what everyone else sees and does e.g. going tubing in Vang Vieng (we skipped this as it’s mainly just a massive piss up and doesn’t add anything to the relations with locals who’ve seen their small scenic town overrun by western youths getting smashed and crawling out of the river like zombies every day), Angkor Wot which is the national pride of Cambodia but is so overrun with tourists that some time spent in one of the smaller temples is much more likely to be spiritually enlightening and many more attractions such as sunset from Phu Si above. You could actually feel the simmering mild aggression of camera wielding tourists who will jab you in the ribs if it means getting that perfect shot! I have to say it takes away from the experience indeed so I decided instead to be friendly to those around me and capture the “scrum” aiming at yet another sunset!