I’ve spent the vast majority of the last two weeks doing nothing. Quite literally just sitting around, doing absolutely nothing whatsoever. Well, either that, or spending long, long hours on a little Korean motorbike I bought, trying to find somewhere that I can do something. Believe me, it’s not by choice. Aside from one beautiful, clear morning in Phu Khoun at the beginning of the trip, the weather has been awful. After that last post I wrote it’s basically been grey, windy, cold and often raining.
So after basically a solid week of awful weather it was time to leave Luang Prabang. There was actually one day that was perfect from dawn ‘til dusk, and I made great use of it by shooting most of the day at Wat Xieng Thong, which is arguably the most beautiful temple in Laos. On my final night there I met two other photographers, a guy named Branden who I met on top of Phou Si hill at sunset, and another guy, Paul, who’s living and selling photos in Luang Prabang. We hung out and talked cameras and photos for quite a while, but before too long it was time to head back to my room and get some sleep before the long ride back to Vang Vieng in the morning.
So, I’ve been in Luang Prabang for a few days, and here’s what I’ve figured out:
- I should have rented a house in Luang Prabang, not Vientiane
- Lao tuk-tuk and boat drivers are great fun, and you should get drunk with them
- When you get drunk with them on Lao whiskey, your head hurts really bad the next day… I mean, like, REALLY bad. Don’t let that stop you, though
- When there is sunlight coming from the direction you want, there are thick clouds where you need blue skies. And vice versa
- Tourism hasn’t spoiled the locals
- Luang Prabang is one of the most beautiful small towns on Earth
Will I keep adding stupid lists to all my posts? Keep checking them, and we’ll both find out! For the moment, they serve my purposes. Don’t expect me to expound on each point.
Photography in Laos is not easy, I’ve been averaging about two photos a day which I can use, and for those of you that don’t know, that’s definitely not enough. But I think I’m figuring out how to work here… more on that towards the end of the post.
Yesterday I tried to rent a motorbike in Vang Vieng. I wanted a real Honda, not some Chinese piece of junk. I asked a guy if I could rent one for 10 days, and he got very suspicious. “Where are you going to go?” he asked. “Kasi”, I replied, which isn’t all true. Kasi is only 56 kilometers from Vang Vieng. Yeah, I was going to go through Kasi… but I was going to keep driving another 150 kilometers or so through the mountains to Luang Prabang. He said Kasi was too far, then became very aloof and stopped looking at me, which is the Lao way of saying no. Being the bastard that I am, I stood and stared at him and basically forced him to actually tell me no. Which he did. I asked another guy, went through the same questions, and was told a ridiculously high price for the bike. So, what should I do now?
Well, it’s been about a week or so since I posted, so it’s time for another. Overdue, actually, but internet access is a pain in the ass here, so… bear with me.
I know the photo I started this entry with is less than exciting, but a few people have asked to see my new house, so… there it is. I signed my contract 12 days ago, and moved into the apartment unit next door while I waited for them to finish fixing up the house for me. I was assured that it would be ready in 2 or 3 days, and 12 days later it’s finally ready! Now, this is Laos, so I wasn’t expecting it to be ready on time. But my patience was starting to wear thin. I wouldn’t have even been getting too concerned yet, except for the fact that tomorrow I’m taking off for Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang in the early morning, and won’t be back until the day before Hans, my friend, will be arriving and moving in with me. I’m not positive, but my gut feeling tells me that Hans wouldn’t be too happy if he arrived and I told him that we would be sharing a bed until the house was ready. In fact, I’d be a hell of a lot more concerned if he wasn’t upset about that.
Well, I’m in Laos now. I have been for 9 days, in fact. For those of you that checked in to see what’s been going on, sorry for the delay. I did, in fact, write a post while I was in Pochentong Airport in Phnom Penh, which I was going to add to when I got here. However, I had a little bit of trouble retrieving it when I discovered in Vientiane that the motor in my hard drive had somehow died on the flight over.
Seeing as how I shoot digital, not being able to use my computer poses a few problems for me. Problems, irritations, maddening, head scratching, cursing, foot stomping… well, you get the idea. So, I spent the majority of my first week getting my computer problems figured out and solved, finding, renting and moving into a house, getting a nice new LCD that I can optimize images on, and in general just getting situated and figuring out my way around town. Now, after encountering a few difficulties, and spending quite a bit of time and money, I’m ready to go.
I think maybe Hanoi hates me. Which is regrettable, because I certainly don’t hate Hanoi. The people don’t seem to hate me so much (at least not all of them), but the environment, the place itself is holding a grudge against me for some reason, and I haven’t figured out why yet.
I say this because I’ve taken four separate trips to Hanoi in the last 3 years, each time with the intention of doing lots of photography. Now, it hasn’t been a complete wash, I always get a few good shots while I’m there, but nonetheless, it’s pretty much guaranteed that when I go to Hanoi, either the weather will suck, I will get some terrible illness, or, most likely, both.