THE PLAIN OF JARS: Thanks to The US government, going off the beaten track might kill you

Plain of jars, site 1, PhonsavanDuring the Vietnam War, the USA dropped several million tons of cluster bombs over the neutral country of Laos in a massive breach of the 1962 Geneva Convention.. in other words, it’s a great example of the USA’s unique way of interpreting international law (Iraq/Afghanistan/Panama/Yemen/Nicaragua/Hawaii, anyone?).

Laos did not have the greatest first impression. People living outside of the major tourist hubs were unfriendly and sometimes outright rude.

Continue reading THE PLAIN OF JARS: Thanks to The US government, going off the beaten track might kill you

The Sadness in Travelling: Five months of goodbyes are starting to take their toll

Laos
A waterfall in the Bolaven Plateau

Three hours before my ferry to the mainland was due to depart, I decided to stay on the Thai island of Koh Tao and train as a divemaster. Breathing underwater and letting the ocean carry my weight felt strangely right, and there is the vague possibility of a job after I finish my training.

Two and a half weeks later and I finally have a day without any diving. I spend it in bed catching up with the backlog of editing, when the first of several waves of sadness pass over me.

Continue reading The Sadness in Travelling: Five months of goodbyes are starting to take their toll

LAOS UPDATE: Hitchhiking, motorbiking, wild camping and unexploded bombs (plus a dying hard drive)

I’m leaving Laos for Bangkok tomorrow. I think I shall miss the laziness of the tuk-tuk drivers (many of whom bring their hammocks to work, and seem to dislike being asked to drive anywhere), the outrageously chilled out working manner of the local traffic police, and the abundance of sticky rice and rather good French-style bread.

But, with a little luck, I will find someone in Bangkok to replace my hard drive and my whole netbook will be good as new.

Here is a brief summary of my three weeks of silence: Continue reading LAOS UPDATE: Hitchhiking, motorbiking, wild camping and unexploded bombs (plus a dying hard drive)

LAOS: What’s inside those mystery banana leaf packages?

Laos, Luang Prabang, Steamed banana leaf, street food
Inside the third package

Another day, another misadventure which, in hindsight, was highly preventable.

The large bowl of pho you’d just had for lunch was not quite enough to satisfy your roving eye, and a woman’s basket of little banana leaf packages proved too tempting to pass up. You pick three at random and ask the price, to which the woman raises an eyebrow.

Continue reading LAOS: What’s inside those mystery banana leaf packages?

LAOS: So the police just rendered me homeless, but I know how to eat Pho now

Mount Phousi
Mount Phousi

“Falang? Are you there?”

Kindred peers in through the screen door before letting himself into your room.

“We have to get out of here. Police are onto us.”

“What?”

“It’s illegal for foreigners to sleep over at a Laotian’s house. They’re coming at two.”

Continue reading LAOS: So the police just rendered me homeless, but I know how to eat Pho now

Godspeed to a Mighty Balloon is now on Facebook!

Did you know: A Boeing 747s wingspan (197 ft) is longer than the Wright brother’s first flight (120 ft)? Their second flight covered 200 ft, and now we’ve all forgotten how incredible commercial flight is.

Anyway,  you can click here to like the page and get posts to your Facebook news feed, or like it because you would like to show everyone that you like my blog. It’s like an online high-five, and I would like your like in the same way a cat would like a scratch behind the ears.

Alternatively, use the Facebook widget on the left. Many danke and happy January 5th!

Diving on Koh Tao: How a Jellyfish Ruined My New Year’s Eve

My leg swelled up so much my ankle disappeared and I couldn't rotate my foot. This must be what pregnant women experience.
Fresh from the doctor.

You toasted the new year alone with a bottle of stale water and some antibiotics in your friend’s apartment in Chumphon. Fireworks burst behind the cover of coconut trees as the clock on your netbook reset and a fresh wave of nausea passed over you.

A brush with a jellyfish off the coast of Koh Tao put a premature end to your diving lessons and left you with an expensive doctor’s bill and several symptoms you would rather have gone without; namely, a heart rate as high as 114, fever, breathlessness, muscle weakness and constant and severe nausea and stomach cramps.

Continue reading Diving on Koh Tao: How a Jellyfish Ruined My New Year’s Eve

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