A Test of Stamina

After another lengthy bus journey we arrived in the Xe Champhone Wetlands. We parked the bus and headed off in tuk-tuks to negotiate the unmade roads and to see the soft shell turtles in Ban Done Deng. We were given some food to throw in the water but the turtles were too slow off the mark to eat it and kept losing out to the fish!

Next we visited Taleow temple which was built in 1918 and oddly looks more like a church than a temple . It was the scene of fierce fighting during the overspill from the Vietnam war and bullet holes were evident both inside and outside the building. It seems impossible to escape the ravages of war in this country

This time of the year is the end of the dry season and the fact that the roads are unmade meant that everyone and everything was covered in a thick film of brown dust by the time we returned to the bus. For a moment it looked like we’d all visited a tanning salon!

After returning to the bus we continued our journey to the village which was to be our resting place for the evening. To get to the village were told we had to cross a bamboo bridge over the Mekong. When we got there we discovered that it had collapsed into the river and our only option was to cross the river by boat. After a tough negotiation with the only boat operators (aged around 12!) we climbed aboard.

Once we’d safely negotiated the crossing and walked up the riverbank, we dropped our stuff off at the homestay and headed off to feed the monkeys which roam around the local temple. After seeing the gibbon in the cage at Vang Vieng it was great to see them running free!

We then returned to the homestay for a blessing by the village chief to rid us of any evil spirits that we may be harbouring. This involved lots of chanting, having bracelets tied around our wrists, a shot of LaoLao whisky and a boiled egg!

We then finished off the evening with some much needed BeerLaos, dinner cooked by one of our fellow travellers (who happened to be a chef!) and finished off with a series of riddles including whose triangle is it? and I’m going travelling, can I take a xxxx? Whether you can or not depends on various things like the first initial of your name, whether you legs are crossed or uncrossed etc. Your challenge is to work out the key which can be madly infuriating, especially if you’re the last one to figure it out!

Not surprisingly, we slept soundly and woke early, ready for the next day’s adventure


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