You call that an elephant??!!

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
Trip End Feb 27, 2013

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Where I stayed
Inthira Hotel Champasak
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Khammouan,
Thursday, February 7, 2013

    After making a supreme effort to drag my rear out of the cushy hotel room yesterday, Gav and I got on our motorcycles and went off in search of the caves famous in this area of Laos.  This is central Laos, which until the recent sealing of the roads in this area, was often passed by by travelers.  Now, many of the caves are 'accessible'. 

    The thing about motorcycles in se Asia is the same as with any activity....there is no questioning of your capabilities, concerns, or even a liability waiver.  No questions asked.  Literally.  I guess they figure if you don't know how or can't drive a motorcycle, you wouldn't be asking to rent one.  And helmets, well....I had one on my head....mostly for looks I think because the buckle was broken and they never fit.  Rather, it swirls around on my head like a basketball on a finger.  This particular one was a beaut....replete with a complete crack from the rear all the way to the top of the helmet.  No wonder they're called brain buckets...jeez.  My only consolation was that I would hopefully not be going fast enough in a wreck to need the 'full' protection a proper helmet would bring.  Wishful thinking?  I'm sure. 

    Anyhow, we made it to the caves and were nickeled and dimed to death.  Every place wanted 2,000 for this and 2,000 for that---bike watch fees, entrance fees, sarong fees!  I'd had enough at the 'sarong' fee.  This was at 'Buddha' Cave where hundreds of buddha images had been discovered in 2004 by a guy climbing up to get bats for dinner.  I purposely wore long pants and had a long sleeved shirt in my bag in order to be able to enter any sacred sites.  I am not here to be disrespectful.  However, they still wanted me to wear a sarong despite my long pants.  That was all fine and good until they charged me for it.  Uhhh, what?  Gav was in shorts and a t-shirt and they just let him right on in.  No siree am I going to pay that.  Wearing a sarong is fine.  Making me pay for it was not.  I said, 'Forget it.'  I took off the sarong and just waited for Gav to come back down.  Entrance fees are fine.  Religious respect is fine.  But, that was downright discrimination and my indignation got the best of me.  They should just raise the entrance fee on everyone and provide the sarongs for free.  Otherwise, it is completely lopsided against the women.  Grrr...

    This little incident occurred after the 'Elephant Cave' which is why I think it put me over the edge.  We pay to enter the elephant cave where there is supposed to be a stalagmite behind a buddha that looks like an elephant.  Exciting right?  Expectations of this magnificent natural elephant creation within a cave abound.  We huff and puff up this cave (after driving in soft sand and across a 4 plank-wide wooden bridge on our motorcycles which was super scary and hard!) only to discover a blob of a stalagmite that is about the size of a microwave in the sort-of, general, I guess shape of an elephant...if you squint your eyes right.  Gav and I silently looked at this thing, then looked at each other, and then went, "You have got to be kidding me!"  The images of Jesus in the toast were better than this!  For Pete's sake. 

    Needless to say, I wasn't impressed by our cave adventure.  Unfortunately, I believe the more impressive caves were further on.  The sun was setting and there was no way to make it there.  We cut our losses and simply enjoyed the ride, which was beautiful.  Just like anywhere, it's always nice to go for a ride and enjoy the scenery, whether on a bicycle, motorcycle, horse, etc. 

    The room was great to return to, but sadly, my stomach is still waging war against an unknown enemy.  I feel fine as long as I don't eat....but then I get so bam....sick again.  Vicious cycle.  Negative conditioning for me regarding eating.  This is a very sad thing.  Because of this and because of a neck soreness I haven't mentioned before, I decided to just stay another day.  I literally couldn't face another day of bus travel.  I just don't feel up to it.  I believe I must have something akin to whiplash because my neck has felt like it has had a severe crick in it for about 5 days now....ever since the horrendous 2 day bus travel from Siem Reap to Don Det.  I can't get it to stop hurting.  But, I suspect the continued strain on it from riding the bikes, bus travel, and carrying my pack isn't helping.  I just need to stop and relax.  I found a pharmacy and got some 600mg Ibruprofen as well as a 'menthol patch' for my neck.  Hopefully, it will start to improve and the pain will abate.  Between my stomach and my neck, I'm just a real spoilsport.  Therefore, I told Gav to get on and leave me here---he's got places he needs to be and so he went on north today.  It's good I can literally lay down and sleep all day....sounds like I have parasites doesn't it.  lol. 
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alan on

Good thing you're getting some rest Jasmine, hope you get good and strong before more punishment lol ;)

kindra on

hate that you're not feeling well :( get some rest and relax....that was part of what you went there to do wasn't it?!?!

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