12 April 2011


I was in Laos for four days, mostly travelling with a lovely American lady called Audrey who also teaches in Bangkok. We met by the Mekong River after a longtail ferry had brought us across from Thailand. We found rooms in Huay Xai and the next day headed deep into the dark heart of South East Asia - a place called Luang Nam Tha. You could find it on a map if you were interested enough.

There we hired bicycles and pedalled off into the countryside which was classically Laotian. A patchwork of tiny paddy fields, huts on stilts, blue mountains rising in the distance. We passed hill tribe villages where naked children played as pot bellied pigs and mother hens with large broods of squeaking chicks snuffled around in the verges and under the bamboo huts that the people lived in. This was not a place for tourist buses. The villagers bathed in the little streams that tumbled from the hills and they wove their own roofs from bamboo and palm leaves. Life is undoubtedly very tough for them and in parts of Laos there can be malnutrition and desperate need depending on the fluctuations of climate and farming. I know this because of my long conversation with a Laotian aid worker called Tao whom I met on my exceedingly cramped bus back to the Mekong. Lord knows how my joints survived. Tao wore Easyrider sunglasses and a khaki cap with a red star above the peak. His twenty nine year old heart was broken because his wife didn't want him any more. He was grateful for my counselling.

So I am writing this now in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on the eve of the Buddhist New Year after a seven hour bus journey from the Mekong. Fortunately, that bus was spacious. Upon arrival, a Thai lady and her Malaysian boyfriend helped me to get a VIP bus ticket back to Bangkok on Saturday evening. All tickets for Friday had gone. Whilst I am up here I am thinking of signing up for a day course in basic Thai cookery.


  1. Half the fun of traveling is the people you meet, and you do that so well. I admire that in you.

  2. What a wonderful break. You won't want to go back to work at this rate. ;)

  3. you must have a nice face... all these people are drawn to you!
    continue to have fun pud!

  4. I'm pleased that Tao managed to fall into the strong arms and into the personal space of a gullible Yorkshireman.

    A cramped bus from Laos, sounds like a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby jaunt.

    There was always a gay subtext in those films too.

    I'm pleased that you built the part of Audrey up to make everything seem more macho though! Good thinking!

  5. A longtail fairy, you say? Was that Audrey or Tao? (taking up the torch where Bangkok Boothys left off...)

    Oh, wait, I get it. You are Bing, and Tao is Bob, and Audrey is Dorothy Lamour....

    Don't mind me, Lord P., I'm a little giddy this morning. What a wonderful trip you are having. Please write a book about it or something when finally you return to Pudding Towers.

  6. Does VIP stand for Very Important Pudding?

  7. JAN It is easier to meet people when you travel alone.
    JENNY Fortunately I actually enjoy teaching in Bangkok and there is no sense of dread or apprehension.
    JOHN GRAY I do have a nice face but it is fatter than it used to be. People are often drwan to me. I like to think it is because I live democratically.
    BOOTHERS No gay subtext old chum but you seem like a nice boy!
    RHYMES WITH Don't let Mr Booth's sordid imagination pull you down into the moral cesspit he inhabits!
    SHOOTIE PEE I like it! Very Important Pudding! Actually the VIP buses are reputedly MUCH more comfortable than the regular buses. Sixteen quid for a journey of nearly ten hours.

  8. I do wish I had your pioneer spirit...there is so much of the world to see isn't there? I am too anxious to wander too far from a well trodden path...but enjoy reading your tales of travelling and meeting folk.


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