26.01.2019 - 27.01.2019
I was relieved the two Koreans didn't follow me to the next island like I thought they might. I might have been called upon to be some kind of mediator over who knows what problem may have come up overnight.
The ticket I bought included transfers to Don Khong, or so I thought.
Once I got to the dock after a boat, bus and broken motorcycle ride, the ferry man wanted more money. No way, I demanded the money that I already paid for the ferry back. He gave it to me, but when he realized how serious I was about walking, he suddenly dropped his extra fee. Not today scam man. You get nothing from me. NOTHING. And so, I just grabbed a giant beer and two donuts and started off beside the river.
I knew there was a bridge somewhere around there, and I was determined to find it. I walked through countless brilliant green rice fields, even in the driest of dry seasons. I took a lot of rice photos for Jeremy again, he says he doesn't need anymore now. Haha.
I walked until finally I saw the big giant bridge. It was at that point that my audiobook came to an end and a Kathleen Edwards album began to play. I sang at the top of my lungs all the way across. I had never been so happy to see any concrete structure in my life before.
As soon as I got across, I waved down a nice looking old German man on a scooter. He told me he was a photojournalist taking photos of obscure temples for some magazine. I was surprised anyone could still make money doing that. I promised him a beer at dinner, but he wouldn't let me buy it for him. I chowed down on fish curry and never saw him again.
I had a real nice room with an actual spring mattress that night, so I went to bed pretty early after drinking a couple of Lao Lao mojitos with an Italian woman from Bologna.
January 27, 2019
I saw Rosanna the Italian woman again in the morning and we both had tickets to buy in opposite directions. The hotel owner seemed to try to buy me a train ticket to Bangkok, but he said it was full. Hmmm. OK, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He sold me an overpriced bus ticket, but there was nothing I could do about it. Rosanna got hers to Tha Kaek and we were done doing business for the day. At first she was going to rent a bike with me but then she changed her mind when the wind picked up a little bit. It was better that way because the roads were real bad and she seemed like she'd probably give up after a few kilometres anyway.
So, I took off by myself. I stopped to pick up some palm sugar, but didn't see anyone actually making it. I guess I was too late in the day, or it was the wrong season for that.
Then, there was the long hot drive to Wat Phu Khao Kaew, built on top of some Khmer ruins. Even though it was hot, lots of women were in the fields planting rice. Their husbands were inexplicably elsewhere. I guessed getting drunk at the corner store.
Tons of children ran after me shouting HELLO in Lao as I tried to navigate the badly eroded red soil track. Eventually, I got to the temple and it was nice, but not really worth the long, bumpy ride. I walked down to the river and took a little dip in my clothes. I'm not sure if it was appropriate to do but I left quickly after that, and it felt great, so whatever.
I got back to the main intersection on the island and could not find an ice cream. There was super dark beer, however. So, I had one of those while plotting my next step.
I saw a couple on bikes going to the same temple, but then they decided not to go the whole way because of the aforementioned roads. They came back before I finished my beer. I went back to town and found the historical museum shuttered. So, I went in search of a "Buddha cave". Did not find it, but I did manage to get hopelessly lost in the not so thick forest beside the road for a few hours. I knew I would be OK though, because for some reason my GPS was working at that time. It hadn't worked for the whole trip. After losing the track, I only panicked a little while I walked through the bush with the sun behind me. It infuriated me because I could hear children laughing and playing, but was completely at a loss as to how to get closer to them. The trees seemed to close in on me and I shouted HELLO in Lao. The kids ran away. I didn't know the word for help, but it didn't matter. Eventually, I found another trail which came out near my bike and I cycled back to town relieved.
I stopped on the side of the road for some kind of spicy noodles with cabbage and a slushie. Everyone else eating at the shack laughed when I couldn't eat the bitter tamarind they happily chewed on. The slushie however, was sent from heaven, exactly what I needed after that hot day. I had enough exhausting adventure, so I went to bed at 7 p.m. and called it a day.