It was only when the noise began coming from the opposite direction, as well, before it dawned on me, what it was...it was the huge drum, at the monasteries, calling the monks to prayer, before they go out for alms....noisy mob...LOL
Got myself ready, then gobbled down my breakfast (fresh fruit, & a ham, tomato, & onion omelet, this time)...just in time to be picked up to go by boat to the Pak Ou caves...
When we got to the dock, there were about 30 people waiting...we were ushered down the hill, to find 6 boats ...all tied together, so to get to the outside boat, you had to clamber across all the others...we had been given numbers, mine was number 3....the obvious happened, the first 5 people, had to do the clambering to the outside boat...
The boats we were climbing through looked very nice...beautifully decorated, comfy, airline style seats.....BUT...when we got to ours, the five of us were speechless...here was this poor, scrawny looking boat, badly in need of a paint...& lined with hard wooden seats!
LMAO....this is the story of my life!!!
There was lots of hilarity from the other boats...telling us we were in economy, & they were business class..Bastards!!! LOL
Our boat took off first, & keen to prove he was up to the task, our driver went like the clappers...Lmao
We galloped along for about 20 mins, with the poor boat gasping like an asthmatic aunt, then with a shuddering gasp, & a squeal, we stopped...dead in the water!
The driver managed to row us to the bank, where he fiddled with the motor, & the following boats passed us by...laughing!
The Germans were panicking, bigtime...but the other passenger, Chinese, & I knew that we were not just going to be abandoned...
Finally the last boat came along, spotted us, & motored over to put us on his boat...comfy seats, & free bottles of water..Yay!
The Germans were still whining...going to complain, dangerous, blah blah blah...some people have no sense of adventure, eh?
No sign of habitation most of the way, & when I asked why, I was astounded to find out that Laos only has a population of 4 million...much the same as NZ, & much the same size....
There are also vast tracts of land, with UXO (unexploded bombs)...During the Vietnam War, Laos was the most bombed country on earth (they should stick the yanks in here, cleaning up their bloody mess!)..
Because of the small population & lack of money, Laos just cannot afford to dispose of them...400 odd Laotians lose life & limbs, each year!!!!
Lets get away from that subject, for the sake of my blood pressure!!!!
After an hour, we arrived at the Pak Ou (Buddha ) Caves.....
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Ok...my heart dropped when I saw all the steps...but thought I would soldier on...eek!
I got up the first 70 steps, into the first cave...
The caves are very old & very sacred...the original had about 10 buddhas, on 4 different levels, but then a local worshiper added one of her own...which started a "thing"...now there are literally thousands, scattered on every available surface...
Inside, I was faced with more steps going upwards...my lungs were screeching "Are you bloody JOKING?...Do you really want to die here, in a cave in the wilds of Laos?
Ummm...let me think...its a pretty nice place to meet my maker...hmmm...No, I dont think so! LMAO
On the way back we stopped off at a tiny village, nestled in the jungle...about 10 houses, if you could call them that..dilapidated shacks would be a better description...these people were POOR!
I felt really guilty gawping at them!
The village is known as the "Whisky Village"...they brew the local gut rot rice whisky...
Samples were being handed out...I did dip my finger in...YUK!
The old fellow was selling big bottles for 10,000 kip ($1.50 !!!)...one of the bloody Germans kept saying "I do not Vant to go blind"...after the 3rd time he said it, I snapped at him "well dont bloody well buy it then..just bugger off!"...our guide laughed until he nearly choked! LOL
There were also ladies there weaving & selling silk scarves & shawls...they were beautiful, & when one of them told me that they were only $1.50, I nearly fell over!
I had already bought 2 at the night market (for 4x the price), so declined...but when I got down to the boat, I thought "bloody hell...I could have bought 10, & handed them out at home, in Saigon...helped the poor woman out!"
But there was no way I was going to climb the muddy, steep hill back up there...
I asked our guide if he would go back & get me some, but he didnt understand what I wanted, so in the end I gave him the equivalent of $10, & sent him up to give to the woman, as a gift!
Made me feel better about having viewed their poverty, as a tourist attraction!
Having missed my daily nap, I slept all the way back...had a lovely sleep, lulled by the rocking of the boat!