I went out looking for a Vespa yesterday. I can't see it happening. They are in the $2k to $3k range here. If I could pick one up for $1k, I'd probably throw it in the suitcase and take it home for the cappucino run of a morning. Too much else happening though....
The run back into Laos is on. Next weekend. It's a "give something back" run... kids clothes and blankets to three remote villages. One is reachable with the utes, the other two are working elephant villages that are only reachable by boat. Som is out buying 400 blankets now and a similar number of sets of warm kids clothes - winter is actually quite cold up in the hills. Its not a big event... its come about from a few guys who want to do something for some of the poorest people there... and they aren't into giving money to NGOs only to see large chunks disappear before things get to the needy. I won't say any more at this stage, but will write it up later.
So... Cambodia..... I guess I better finish off that section before I repeat myself too much.
Cambodia used to be my favourite Asian country. These days, I reckon I'd rate Laos as my favourite. I'm still in love with Cambodia, Flores & Sumatra (Indonesia) and NW Thailand... but Laos, away from the bitumen, is simply brilliant. I've had a few sessions at Riders Corner in Chiang Mai with guys who have a lot of riding (and running tours) in Cambodia. I've got some ideas for when I go back. One of the guys was riding in Cambodia back when Pol Pot was still popping people off. Hopefully, he might be in on part of my next ride. A few things I want to see are the pyramid temple (only one in SE Asia I believe) and the elephant sculpture that's a difficult single-track ride to access... and then I want to have a shot at the smuggler's track through the Cardamoms. That one's best done with a riding partner.
One of the things I really wanted to see in Cambodia was the lake with more water in it than when I was there at midyear last time. I'm rather worried for the future of Tonle Sap.... given all the dams being built in China and Laos in particular. I posted some photos of my trip out there... here's some more.
I posted a shot of me driving the tourist boat earlier. The controls on this boat were a lot more advanced than the one I drove a couple of years back. This one had a proper pedal box. Two years ago, the throttle was a bit of wire attached to the engine.... whack your foot down on the wire and go... not easy to finesse. Here's the good one::
At a guess, this is some sort of tourist development under construction
The villagers here are in the water left right and centre.
Every house had several of this style of boat tied up to it
Most of the powered boats were inboards, rather than rat tails
Like I said.... in the water everywhere
Not much paint used
This one shows the construction
In the dry season, these houses are 20' and more above water level
I'm not sure what the story is with these little shacks. I was told by Ellie that up in northern Laos little huts like this are retreats for lovers. Here?
It was nice to see waterbirds in their natural environment... rather than in the cooking fire
I showed the secondary school in an earlier post. This is the primary school
It was wall to wall boats up the channel
The shot above shows the stern tube on the boat, out of water here... and its missing its shaft and prop. These things are normally driven with a 5hp Honda stationary engine... or something similar. Very different to the rat tail boats on the rivers.
This next one shows them drying shrimp.... or as the Aussies would say, prawns.
I'll leave it at that with Tonle Sap. There's more, of course... but I think that's enough. Phew... not a single bike shot eh?