Monday, October 31, 2011

Voyage to Thakek - The Land

The trip down there from Vientiane is about six hours on the Route Nationale 13. There are potholes and expanses of gravel and other drivers, but the road is good and my eternal thanks go to David Bowie for having recorded Heroes.

When you finally get to somewhere the landscape is breathtaking. Hills, valleys, rice paddies and rivers.

We went for a trek to the blue lagoon just north of Thakek and had the immense pleasure of getting lost. The weather is turning clement and the monsoon has been reduced to the occasional drizzle.

The paths have been rained out and planks of wood have been raised above the muddy earth. The land is scarcely populated and every now and again a head will be seen bobbing above a hedge or labouring in a rice paddy.

Rocks outcrop in Asian glory: am I looking at something real or am I looking at an ancient Japanese print? Broad valleys are surrounded by bold solitary craggily hills with scarce trees like a bad crew-cut.

All around us is Asia, Asia for as far as the eye can see and the heart can feel. Southeast Asia a back-drop of villages and rivers, beaches and mountains. Cities, temples, pilgrimage sites. Roads, paths and the never-ending thrill of discovery.

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