Asia | South East Asia | Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) | Mekong | Don Det – Day 34 – Suspended in heat and hammock, Laos
The river, ever-present, slides by in metamorphosing worried-forehead ripples near the shore, and in fist-sized vortexes spinning out concentric circles of slow-motion 2-D bubbles, marking time, itself nothing more or less than distance over velocity. I am suspended in heat and hammock, a barely perceptible pendulum motion also marking time in metred widths of a fingernail. I have experienced the vague sensation that I have stolen something — perhaps time itself, which makes sense given my great distance from anything resembling home and my near-zero velocity. But have I stolen time for myself or from myself? This I do not know.
The Laos Ive heard about, in tune with an older way, has crept in and crept over me the last couple of days. A good thing. I was wound up. Bad taste in my mouth from the border barter. But the sun sets into the vanishing point of the Mekong itself and I can absorb it all in my floating twine cocoon. Let it wash over me like the voice of the river playing reeds it has swamped, a modulating whispered rush, waters impression of wind in the leaves but smoother, not as tickly and ever persistent.
The big outing, which occupied the meat and heat of the day yesterday, despite the best intentions of my overly-optimistic early start to the day, was a walk to the small falls, one island, one bridge, and several kilometres away. I was joined by Marc from Belgium and we were joined down the path by Pepe from Mexico and Dora from Denmark. We sauntered and ambled past rice and thatch and mud-glistened water buffalo. It took well over an hour to get there and we arrived just as a wide dark cloud shattered from above, creating what looked like waters version of an inferno.
Before us the swollen, rainy-season river crashed down over rocks across hundreds of metres of Mekong span, roaring and leaping as if electrocuted, while storm-driven wind sent sheets of rain into the melee and thunder heaved above the entire din. The power in this display was almost frightening. Frayed rain settled on us neath the straw roof of the little seating area, mixing with the sweat already soaking our clothes. We sipped soft drinks provided by an enterprising old man sporting a whispy fu manchu and wiry skinny muscular legs. By the time we made it back here to the Riverside Guesthouse, the afternoon was steamy but fading.
Its almost too dark for me to write much more. No electricity here, basics suiting me just fine at this point. Whats left of this day is casting peach juice on the glassy waters of the Mekong. Of course Im probably being chowed on by voracious mozzies…But the light fades and things creep in the bamboo growth around my cabin. Calm, I hope, unwind.