The Place Where Time Stood Still

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Mr. Phao's Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Champasak,
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm not positive, but I think time is actually running in reverse. After our crazy transportation adventures, we managed to make it over the Laos border, transferring buses and bus companies, and catching a boat - all from the same ticket we bought in Cambodia! Of course, all of this waiting and busing felt like forever. We hadn't stopped for lunch and were getting very tired and grumpy. There were so many people at the boat stop not all the bags would fit, so away we went waving goodbye to our bags hoping that we would catch up again soon on the other side. (Brian was NOT happy about this).

What a beautiful stretch of river! This is the widest part of the Mekong river at the south of Laos just at the Cambodia border. So many little patches of land spring up through the water here they call it the 4000 Islands or Si Phan Don in Lao. I think there's probably more. Watching children playing in the water, women gardening along the shore, and men fishing in boats I began to not worry so much about my bags. What a beautiful place we were going to stay!

Magically, the tourists seem to disappear. After the initial rush of arrival by boat, everyone gets absorbed into their respective bungalows around the island barely to be heard from again. This is such a relaxing place. Hammocks are the main attraction where you can while away the time reading or sleeping. We walked about 2 kilometres down a small dusty path to find our new home. After all that had gone on during the day, Brian enjoyed his first Beer Laos over the river and I checked the time. It was barely 1pm...That couldn't be right! We weren't estimated to arrive at the boat dock until 2...

That was just the start of a recurring phenomenon on this island. In a society where we often feel the opposite: where has time gone? I don't have enough time! Here is the opposite. It seemed like the more we did, the more time we had!

I would wake to photograph the sunrise and the fishers out on their boats. Then relax in the hammock for awhile. Maybe wander down the way and get a coffee. Go somewhere else for breakfast. Walk back. Have a shower. Sit and read awhile. Rent bicycles and ride around the island. Time check: 9am????

A small dirt footpath circumnavigates the island. On the water's side, occasionally you'll see little bungalows with hammocks overhanging the water. On the other side of the path is Laos island life. Chickens and cattle have the run of the 'road'. Children play with their pet pigs. Women swing babies in baskets. Great smells come from fires. Schoolchildren take short cuts home through the rice paddy paths. Fishers cast nets endlessly in the Mekong. Water buffalo take an evening dip. The sun sets languidly turning the mountains in Cambodia purples and blues. The stars shine so brightly so can almost see them reflected in the moving river.

My taste buds have been reawakened by Laos food! Although the service, like the time here, takes forever, you don't really seem to mind because what is coming will be fabulous. I even had to order my fish dish a day in advance (although the menu only said 3 hours ). I'm intrigued by the sticky rice which comes in beautifully woven bamboo baskets and you eat with your hands. Basically it's your hunger that rules the time here. When you're hungry it's time to move, when you're not you just relax. I can see how people loose days and weeks in this place!

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