Sunday, November 26, 2006


It's a lovely morning out here in Vientiane and after having had some breakfast and drinking a few coffees while reading the newspaper I went for a stroll through town. I came across a fairly decent looking hair salon and decide to try my luck. Now it's not that I have suddenly overcome male pattern baldness but the hair on the back of my neck started to look unruly.
When I go to Tony the barber in Whangarei it takes him about three minutes and a number two razor to get me looking fine again, not so in Vientiane. First they washed my hair, all two strands of it, then there were hot towels, cold towels and a head massage. I've never figured out what the purpose of a cranial manipulation is I find it neither pleasant nor have I noticed ever any benefit from it. But on with the show. The cutting using a combination of three different razors and a pair of scissors takes half an hour and then I look just like coming out of Tony's shop.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The quiet country

After a week in Laos the thing that strikes me most is the relaxed way in which everything occurs. Even the busses drive slow. I have added some pictures below to show you what it is like.
A Budha statue near Champasak

Laotian and Communist flags in Savanakhet

Fishermen on the Mekong checking their catch

Slowly crumbling building in Savanakhet

Thursday, November 09, 2006


A Norry also known as a bamboo train is a form of transport that I haven't come across before. Basically it's a timber platform on top of a set of railway wheels this "cart" gets powered by a small petrol engine connected via a V-belt to one of the axles.
As long as you know what the train schedule is so you don't run into a real train you're Ok.

When you run into a Norry that comes from the opposition direction you simply stop and decides which one gets dismantled and stacked on the side of the line while the other one goes by.

As far as I am aware these contraptions only run near Battambang in Cambodia and even their days might be numbered as they are technically illegal and the government might decide to enforce the law any day soon now.


I always thought the following story was an urban myth.
While I was having dinner in one of the backpacker restaurants here a crippled man came shuffling in on his bum begging for money. Nothing unusual so far. He looked pretty down and out in torn pants and shirt and as he was quite persistent got quite a few people to part with their cash. When he had finished his round he shuffled out of the restaurant, counted his haul, picked up his flip flops from behind a rubbish can, stood up and walked away!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Siem Reap to Battambang

The boat trip from Siem Reap to Battambang is hot, long and absolutely beautiful. I found a place on the roof of the boat and was treated to an everchanging vista of river life with small villages in the middle of nowhere suddenly turning up. Kids playing in the water and even lifestock being kept miles from the shoreline. As always a picture is worth a thousand words so enjoy the essay below.


Two nights ago I have been done over by what I assume was a swarm of mozzies. I counted more then a hundred bites and as a character in one of the books I am reading says they "itch like bollocks". I am trying not to scratch them but that isn't always easy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Cambodians seem a little confused as to what currency they wish to use. The official unit is the Riel, most prices are quoted in US Dollars and payment can be given in Thai Baht. So it's by no means unusual to receive a restaurant bill in Dollars, pay the proprietor in Riel and Baht for change.

Out and About in Angkor

As a hardened explorer I occasionally have to forego such essentials as a swimming pool with my hotel. However one can't make do without servants so for my exploration of the great cities and temples of Angkor I have obtained the services of a manservant an driver. Mr Rien as he is known drives me in a remorque-kang, a small trailer behind a motorcycle, to the various locations waits for me while I visit them and then drives me on again. And all this for the princely sum of ten dollars per day.