If you are vegan, vegetarian, animal activist or just plain squeamish, please omit this blog from your reading list. You see, today our travels took us to local markets. At the first, baskets, bowls and rattan cages held all manner of creatures. I saw the usual chicks, ducks, geese and fish. But have you ever seen frogs, slugs, gekko, snakes, locusts and grasshoppers? I confess, I had never even heard of a bamboo rat, let alone seen one. With the teeth of a beaver, yet resembling a large guinea pig, it was not a happy chappie. It hissed if you approached it. Bet it is hissing in a pot tonight.
We were offered some titbits. Like Carole Thatcher in the jungle, we rose to the challenge. Ever the gent, hubby let me go first. First the boiled bee larvae from the honeycomb. Hmm bit chewy but no real flavour. Now for something more adventurous - fried, salted crickets. Oh yummy. More please. They could replace popcorn as my favourite snack. Must tell Mr S. he could start another business.
At the next market more food, jewellery and fish. Enormous ugly fish bubbling away in oxygenated water. I did not fancy eating the raw glass fish piled high in a big bowl, surrounded by flies.
The final market was hubby's worst nightmare. Fish, fish and more fish. Raw, smoked, pickled, salted. It was all there. Flavoured with chillies, garlic, herbs or lime. Packaged and open to the elements. You had your choice. We chose not.
Back to the bus. Now I know I have mentioned unusual powered bike activity several times. Today we saw the ultimate. I am gutted I did not catch it on camera but it did happen. An obviously ill driver was hooked up to an intravenous drip. The passenger held it aloft on a bamboo pole. What do you think of that Dr D??
Children in pristine white shirts and dark bottoms made the one and a half mile home for lunch in sauna conditions. Yet they all smiled and larked around.
The countryside grew more lush. We were in rainforest territory. Our knowledgeable guide didn't just name teak, rubber, mahogany and sandalwood trees. He also explained their uses. I once had some sandalwood that hung on a ribbon in my wardrobe. Wonder which house I left that in?!
We arrived at The Elephant Crossing Hotel in Vang Vieng. It had been described as basic, so we were somewhat apprehensive. We needn't have worried. What it lacked in finesse, was more than compensated by the mind-blowing views and the friendly staff. OK, there were a few mislaid tiles and dodgy lagging in the shower. I can tell you, it was Paradise compared to some of our experiences.
We chose to go for a ride in a tuk tuk to the Blue Lagoon. We tootled over a long Billy Goats Gruff bridge, along a track with tremendous views of the mountains. We just dropped in to the local primary school to say 'Hello'. The kids loved it and the teachers didn't seem to mind. Working with pens and paper. Not a computer in sight. The children back home don't know how lucky they are.
A mile and several cows further on, we arrived at the Blue Lagoon. I thought we would be one. Silly me. About twenty young men and nubile women were cavorting in the water or jumping in from high tree branches. Now, Brooke Shields I am not. I feared revealing my white podgy body. Hubby told me not to do a 'Miami Hat'. I have always regretted not buying that floppy hat with a pink flower. That phrase convinced me to remove my outer clothes and tiptoe to the edge. The young people welcomed me with open arms. They showed me the best entry points and gave me a helping hand when the current was starting to carry me away. I did not panic Mr Mainwaring!! Hubby finally beckoned me out of the cool water. 'Come in Number Six. Your time is up'.
It didn't take long to dry. We were soon back in the tuk tuk. We had a brief stop to watch a local weaver demonstrate her skill. We would have bought from her, but our money was at the hotel. She worked a hand loom, just like my ancestors did two hundred years ago. Glorious colours and intricate patterns.
We chose to walk across the bridge to take some photos. We met a very happy couple. They were thrilled to bits, having caught a squirrel for tea!!!!
After a shower and rest, we had a meal at a local restaurant. No squirrel for us thanks. And on that tasty note, I bid you all a 'Good night'.