This title was required after our overnight train trip from Bangkok to the Border of Laos. We boarded about 8:45pm and ended up in 2nd class with an upper and lower berth. They made our narrow beds and we settled in around 10:30. From then on we were constantly shaken-side to side- for the next 10 hours until we got off the train at 9:30 am. Several times Denny-on the upper bunk-had to grab the edge to keep from being thrown out of the bed!!! Shaken, but not stirred!
Last night we spent in the cute little town of Nong Khai-on the Thai side of the Mekong. We had a little riverside hotel called the Mutmee-run by a Falong(foreigner) and his Thai wife. We rented bikes and rode along the riverwalk to this weird temple outside of town called the Sala Kaewkoo Sculture Garden where this mystic shaman combined Buddhism and Hinduism and a little iconism with a dash of spirit worship. Here he collected and had built a variety of unusual giant statues of all these belief systems. Evidently he had quite a following in the area. Here also lies his body for viewing in a glass coffin.(the original bubble boy) We had a nice sunset riverboat tour of the Mekong complete with Mekong catfish and then wandered the streets as they were having a festival. Got to watch a volleyball game-only it is only played with the feet and head-very interesting to watch them spike a ball using only their feet. Stopped by the main city temple which was highlighted by an ancient Buddha statue rescued from the Mekong. It's head was solid gold w/ sapphires making a flame above his head.
Crossed the border today into Laos and are spending the night in Vientiene-the capitol city. Visited the giant golden Pha That Luang stupa that is their national symbol, and the wats surrounding it. Apparently this is where the Supreme Patriarch of Lao Buddhism resides. We didn't spot him.
Also visited the Patuxai, the Arc de Triomphe of Cambodia-built with U.S. cement sent to build an airport runway. Seems they thought it would be better to build this memorial to their Pre-revolutionary war dead. Climbed to the top for a city view. For dinner we headed to the Riverside Bar. Funny thing is the water is like 400 yards away since it is the dry season. So, it was more like sitting by a wide, wide sandbar. Amazingly someone had a hot air balloon and was giving tethered rides to people right at sunset. Linda had a photo feast. Head to Luang Prabang on Lao Airlines tomorrow. They don't have a good safety reputation, so wish us luck. More when we get there. We hope to do a volunteer stint there for a week.