Tuesday, 19 July 2005

A truly multi-national kayak trip!

One German, one Swiss, two Dutch, one Mexican, two Brits, two Canadians and an obligatory couple of Irish folk made up my kayak group on Sunday. About as multinational as it gets out here!

Saturday night I succumbed to a Friends cafe and a pizza, but avoided the happy shakes and the amphetamine-laced cocktails. A warning notice in an internet cafe highlighting the rather regular occurrence of tourists getting arrested, fined and their passports confiscated was enough to put me off. I imagine a Laos prison cell would be a 'site of special interest', but it is not one that I wish to witness. You really don't want to mess with a communist / corrupt police force on your travels.

I spent my evening as a true falang, watching Friends and eating pizza before a not-so-falang early nighter- so much for my experience of Ibiza in Laos. There is something inherently sad about attempting to go clubbing by yourself, (it is not the same as going to a bar and reading a book, which I do on a regular basis) and after my aromatic encounter with a backpacker on the bus that morning, I felt no need to be sociable.

Sunday morning I woke to the sound of torrential rain. I wouldn't have been at all surprised if it had continued throughout the day, such is my luck with water-based activities(I shaln't go into my treacherous boat ride on Lake Titicaca to the Island of the Sun where I then witnessed a snow storm). Thankfully, the rain abated and I spent a great day on the Ngum river, banked on both side by impenetrable jungle. The environment there was absolutely stunning and, at least in that area, completely unspoilt.

I was really surprised at the river's ability to appear perfectly calm one minute, only for it to turn into an angry, roaring, monster around a corner. Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration. The rapids weren't exactly beasts, they were more domestic cat than lion. Still, everyone bar me capsized(because I was with an instructor...not because of a hidden talent for kayaking). I was with an instructor because I was the only singleton there, everyone else was part of a couple. There are certain times when I miss my man; that was one of them.

I managed to keep my bottom firmly inside my kayak for the first our and a half, despite a regular soaking by my hyperactive instructor, who insisted on standing on the back of the kayak and using his paddle to drench everyone. It was worth it to cool down from the glaringly, hot midday sun though.

We ate lunch on the banks of the river before continuing our journey by kayak. In the afternoon, my attempts to resist an encounter with parasitic life in the river were futile(specialising in parasitology as an undergrad was not the best idea for someone who enjoys international travel)as we ended up in a kayak capsizing fight. My instructor had the knack and between us we managed to capsize everyone. As with all cases of warfare though, it was'nt long before everyone ganged up for a revenge attack and I ended up fully immersed in the ominously murky water. It was great fun. After that we had a soggy tuk tuk ride for a couple of hours to the capital.

Back in Vientiane with an unhealthy attachment to this computer. Thankfully it didn't crash this evening.

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