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Blog 98 Pak Ngeun to Nam Theun

1st January

Gentle flat to rolling roads through bush reefs, mountains on the horizon shrouded in mist, deep foliage of trees clinging onto the vertical sides. Stall holders walking up, barbequing skewered meats, dogs still curled up. It was a gentle day , calm, a cycling day in the softest sense.  I was halfway around the world.

Halfway Around the World

Stopped for meat by a stall outside the stall holders house; dogs yapping, hens, ducks following each other. And on the telephone wires a trail of brown bugs walking its length on an aerial world, politely passing each other as they came nose to nose down the other way. There was no wind just a hot sun between mid morning and mid afternoon when it cools. 

Junction straight on to Vietnam or right to continue south. Every town and village an identikit facsimile of each other - shops selling domestic basics, small flour mills, always mini market shops full of carbonated drinks and snack foods. The larger towns sell rows of motorcycles, white goods but always a phone shop with cases pinned to walls behind the counter, ear buds, cables, everything to keep people connected. 

Buddha in the Rock

The gentle wind that blows hot but with gusts of coolness when I cycle through the shade of trees. I actively seek out the trees or the shadows from small houses, sometimes sit quietly in an unfinished building, lying to rest on the concrete floor, my body temperature falling a little before I feel comfortable enough to continue. This project moves along literally inch by inch. Stop pedalling, it all stops. 

The Flooded Forest

A Bit of Information

After interviewing local fishermen, it became known that native fishes are still abundant enough in the flooded forest to provide food and income to local people. The major species include minnows, barbs, catfishes, featherbacks, needlefish, and snakeheads, as well as snails, aquatic insects, and wild vegetables. But while the aquatic resources are still plentiful, terrestrial resources have suffered: the bamboos, livestock grazing lands, rice fields and even trees have undergone dramatic losses near the Namphit wetland area. Because trees are dying, many locals have started turning them into charcoal. This process involves cutting a tree into pieces, then placing them into a clay stove and sealing up the door with mud. The wood burns, and once the smoke becomes white, the charcoal maker opens the stove door to stop the fire. After the charcoal cools, local people bag it up and sell it by the side of the road. The bags of charcoal sitting in place of trees are one more indication of a landscape being transformed.

Map of the Day

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Understanding that this extreme trip is many times a lonely one. The good thing is that you don't owe nothing to anybody else but you. You plan and you do. And this gave me (ooh, I was in my twenties...) a wonderful feeling beeing so far away from daily obligations to someone else.

Thank you for letting us participate in your adventure so closely, Nick.


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