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On the Bamboo Road with Mike & Eric

Rickshaw

A couple TDA alumni Mike Stacey & Eric Aagrad are cycling some of our planned route through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Thailand. Here is their latest report…

“The motorbike is king in these parts but you must be eight to drive one. They are nifty little machines, immaculately kept, cost about $1000 and absolutely everyone has one. Its hard to imagine how people got around before them.

Its 30 degrees and Russel has finally taken off the scarf a waitress gave him in Vietnam because he was shivering so much. Stacey was google (small g) eyeing our breakfast waitress when a German couple warned us that she was a he. We’re just wild and crazy guys. We have not been accosted by touts, scammers, drug dealers or bang bang girls in spite of the dire forewarnings of the guidebooks. Drink is our vice.

We continue to saunter down the Mekong River in 120-150 km chunks. We overnight in old French colonial (means shutters falling off) towns, find decent accommodation, enjoy great and ridiculously cheap meals and drink tons of Beer Lao (which I am importing to Canada because of its addictive properties). In between we cycle through forest and farmland punctuated by dusty villages of little wood houses on stilts (open kitchen underneath) and schools full of kids screaming hello to us as we pass by. Its cool when we leave at 6:30 and already the villages are bustling. The ladies kneel beside the road in prayer as the monks roll by collecting their daily alms of rice and fruit. Every village has a gaudy temple and a golden buddha or two. By ten its hot and we are fried by the time we finish mid afternoon.

Its a rest day today and we are in a posh guesthouse on the sunset side of a stoner island full of young backpackers. We don’t fit in but I’m not sure we’ll leave.

Laotians are lovely people. They’re honest and happy in spite of the fiscal cliff and the Doomsday asteroid. I hope tourism doesn’t turn them into greedy ******. We cross over to Cambodia tomorrow.


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