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4.30am – Our Call To Alms

4.30 am – A Call To Alms! We’d both heard stories of the saffron- shrouded Buddhist monks who walk the streets of Luang Prabang at dawn. Or rather, Andrew had heard them from me. So when a chilly, dark 4.30am came ‘a calling, we both rose – before the Lark had even considered warming up her tonsils! We wrapped ourselves like Sherpas and hit the black deserted streets in search of this sacred, spiritual practice. The little town resembled a cemetery ground, the odd Chinese lantern thankfully lighting our way. Somnolent was not the word. We strolled down the ‘high street’ alone, growing colder and more concerned that absolutely no preparations for the event had even begun. ‘Are you sure they do it every bloody morning?’ Andrew rasped, fag in hand. ‘Yes’ I hissed back. We were certainly in need of The Buddha. We then stumbled across a temple complex – that was apparently empty. Golden, glistening palaces, all sympathetically floodlit, for no-one apparently, but us. We marvelled at these stunningly foreign creations, alone, for some minutes.  Then we noticed we had company. A young, berobed, monk was standing in front of one of the gilded structures and raising both arms. In supplication I romantically assumed. As we got closer I realised this kid had his mobile phone and was using it to get a few snaps of his digs before the ceremony. My pretentious deep moment was somewhat punctured. […]

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The Birds!

What a day this has been – what a great mood we’re in – why, it’s almost like being in Laos’! What a country! Rarely, nowadays, do we find an authenticity and kindness that is beyond blogs! This place is charming. We had croissant this morning the French colonial hangover is ever present. Comme fantastique! AND, after a herbal tea provided by our host, Pan, I realise what puts the bang into ‘Luang Prabang’! Our day was like something from a Hitchcock movie! I was, of course, Tippi Hendren, and Andrew, no help at all! Birds, birds, nothing but birds.  Parakeets and  Peregrine and Minor Bird and Cockatoo! Fried! No judgement – I have no idea what the local diet consists of, but, suffice to say, Hilda Ogdan’s ‘Murial Wall’ would not have been safe! A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, I believe that’s the saying. As we rounded down a small side street we we’re suddenly in a market akin to a slaughter house – there were, quite obviously, no birds left in the bush! Decapitation at every turn! Eyes front, I said to myself but then came face to face with two half dead chickens – I’m still convinced that one of them looked at me pleadingly on it’s way to the block.  It was horrifying – old ‘Hitch’ would have been proud. As we exited this scene of avian horror we had both […]

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Rolling Down The River!

At 8 AM we boarded our boat – (the H.M.S number 13!), with just a little wariness and and more than a few tots of Thai Rum to hand. We were going to sea after all – well, to river. Both Andrew and I looked and felt dreadful. But, we were looking for adventure and so it came and ‘Thai-Boxed’ us right in the proverbial ‘eek’. We met some wonderful people on the jetty, but were slightly reticent to engage as we knew we would be sharing the next ten hours with them on a barge that looked as if she wouldn’t be comfortable on The Thames, let alone the mighty Mekong. The ‘Marchioness’ came to mind but I swiftly exorcised that thought and certainly didn’t share it with ‘His Highness’, who is not exactly Lord Nelson when it comes to messing about on the water! I was seated next to a wonderfully jolly South Korean named ‘Muang’ and as I took my seat he rubbed my knee and whispered that all his Western dreams had come ‘tlue’! No bullshit! I pointed out my partner to him, on the pier, still smoking, at which point he lost complete interest in my thigh and frothed at the mouth, rabid, for what he called ‘Superman’! He obviously doesn’t know Andrew well! When Andrew did board and I politely introduced him to Muang, my ‘better half’ immediately decided to bring up North Korea […]

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A Couple Of Snakebites And The Red Cross!

We had contemplated staying on an extra night at our little guest house on the Thai side of the mighty Mekong but that was before we realised we were living next to ‘Miss Ebola 2015’. A young Swiss couple with their young child were in number 11 – we were in number 10 – with nothing between us but a cardboard wall even ‘Ikea’ would have rejected. This Alpine clan were suffering!  Coughing, spluttering, sneezing, wheezing and spitting! We named them ‘The Swiss Family Gobinson’! At bedtime, as I was reading, Andrew fell asleep within three seconds (a talent he possesses that I greatly envy), he than began to snore. Like a wart-hog! I attempted to silence him with a couple of gentle punches but to no avail. I then heard a gigantic sneezing fit coming through the flimsy divide. Snort! Sneeze! Wheeze! Cough! Snort! I then heard Ms Swiss Gobinson begin to imitate Andrew’s snoring! At which moment her partner began to chastise her – he told her that she was making enough noise for the whole of Zurich! (My rudimentary German comes in handy occasionally). At this point, the baby awoke and began to scream in a dreadfully effective Teutonic manner – I thought, between all of them, they would wake the entire guest-house. Luckily, I had taken a herbal sleep remedy given to me by our lovely friend Patrizia, and I slipped into a welcome state of […]

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Mia Sallow!

Here we are! Well after another highly enjoyable, ‘big-dipper’ bus trip – we have made it to The Golden Triangle. Which looks neither golden nor triangular at present but that could be because of my miserable condition! I still haven’t shaken off the bug I contracted from our young Korean mates on the bus to Pai – in fact, added to the ‘Noodle Soup Incident’ , and the home-made hair massacre, it has slightly knocked me for six – well, twelve actually! Andrew has attempted to cheer me by likening me to a young Mia Farrow. Gamine and elfin I, innocently, took this to mean. Then Mr Kennedy clarified his point – what he actually meant was I reminded him of the actress as the eponymous heroine, Rosemary, in Mr Polanski’s infamous 60s film! He has a point – but at least I’m not pregnant!    Well not yet anyway …. Although I do believe anything is possible in this strange part of the world. I have been taking the ‘erb’ and the potion that Andrew has insisted will help my condition, yet so far there is no improvement, I seem to have worsened. WHAT THE DEVIL IS GOING ON ? So this evening, Sister  Kennedy decided the best thing for me was a good walk.  He advised we took a stroll into the inky night.  Deftly avoiding man-holes minus their covers and roaming dogs, certainly not minus their teeth, […]

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The Last Midnight!

Having not even found our ‘bus-legs’ we entered the cinema in Northern Thailand with surprise, dizziness and a little trepidation. After all, we were going ‘Into The Woods.’ We went first class – just like the film. Cocktails and popcorn included!Non-alcoholic of course, that is until someone spirited a little illicit ‘7/11’ vodka into the brew. ‘Mixology’ I believe they call it. It was a potion with which Meryl’s witch would certainly have approved! How brilliant! To see a filmed musical that mostly worked – for once! It must have […]

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Bohemian Rhapsody (in the key of Morris Minor).

Good grief! We are now in recovery from the journey from hell. Four hours; 702 hairpin bends; vertiginous for most of the way. The engine, equivalent to that of a ‘Morris Minor,’ coughed and spluttered her way down the mountainside emitting so much carbon as to make all the recycling we do at home completely redundant! I’m sure our beautiful planet had warmed half a degree by the time we hit the valley floor! The stereo in the van blasted out ‘Daddy Cool!’ The driver, however, was not as cool as daddy. When ”Mamma Mia’ began to play as we hit the ‘Pits Stop’ we shared the same sentiment as Agnetha & Freida! ‘My, My – Why Did We Get On This?’ Next time I’m booking the bus tickets! Andrew has a wonderful knack of getting us the worst seats with the worst possible driver! After a brief layover, we hit the road again. This time the soundtrack was ‘Queen’s’ Bohemian Rhapsody! Our driver took Freddie’s lead and,quoting another song from Mr Mercury’s back-catalogue, we travelled ‘through the sky like lady Godiva!’ There was certainly no stopping him! Now back in civilisation – still spinning and shuddering from our roller coaster ride, we’re off to the cinema to see Ms Streep and co in ‘Into The Woods.   I just hope we can focus, as the tickets were fourteen quid each!

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