We have been following the baguette trail as I like to call it since in Vietnam, Laos, and in Cambodia being former French colonies they consume the bread for breakfast with triangle wedges of cheese, which costs about a dollar. It also makes for a tasty afternoon snack and we liked ours with some chillies to add an Asian flavor. The Mekong river has also been our companion and we witnessed its life giving properties supporting rice farms, floating villages, and entire towns built along its banks. Our personal interactions included boating on its waters, cycling along its quiet muddy banks, watching naked kids bathe, observing women washing clothes, and seeing lazy sunsets.
We arrived in the sleepy country of Laos in the southern part of Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands) at night and hopped on a Sangthaew (a truck with 2 rows of seats) and made our way to the boat. The ride felt like a Hallowen hayride with distant village fires burning and pitch black. We came to our wooden boat and made our across the river to the other side with clear constellations above. The islands are made up of the three biggest known as Don Khong, Don Dhet, and Don Khon and a host of many other tiny specks of land. The islands recently got 24 hour electricity and consist of dirt paths lined with farms and plenty of farm animals and noise to settle you in quietly. At night the stars are amazing with the soft gurgle of the Mekong flowing by quietly. We rented bicycles, which in these countries consists of a rusty frame with squeaky to non-existing brakes, a hard seat, banana handlebars, and a single gear. The accessories sometimes include a bell and a front basket. For some reason my bikes would always throw the chain so after learning from a local would find some sticks and get the chain back on without blackening my hands. The trails on the islands are rutty and rocky so needless to say biking anywhere was painful and slow but an endearing way to observe everyday village life. We biked out to a beach by the river with mint green waters and to a high point to witness beautiful surrounding country and to try and get lucky and spot the Irrawaddy dolphins that make their home here. Most of the activity consists of watching the boats ply the waterways, writing in the diary, and eating.
We make our way northward from here to the town of Savannakhet to celebrate New Years.