Today we woke up at 5:30 to the sound of the townâ€™s public loudspeaker (many Vietnamese cities have news, public information and music pumped out of these speakers at dawn) and a competing rooster. We took a morning stroll to the other side of town and were greeted by many smiling kids and Chau Docâ€™s very friendly population. We were the only tourists in sight.
Archive for January 6th, 2008
One of Laosâ€™s treasures which for the moment seems to be off the beaten path for large masses of tourists is Si Phan Don near the countryâ€™s southern border with Cambodia. We made the journey to Si Phan Don from Luang Prabang in the North by flying to Vientiane in the evening, staying overnight and flying from there to Pakse early the next morning. We then continued by bus to the main island of Don Khong. Our next destination was Siem Reap, Cambodia and, since I personally dislike backtracking while traveling, we wanted to find a way to cross the border and continue on by land or by river without taking the bus back to Pakse for the direct flight to Siem Reap.
New Yearâ€™s Eve 2008 was not only memorable, it was one of the best Iâ€™ve ever had! I was excited at the thought of counting down in one of the first time zones to lead the rest of the world into the New Year. For this street party in the center of town there were no barriers, no velvet ropes, no prohibitive cover charges, no limited space and little to no security (nor any apparent need). Tourists, expats and locals were all welcomed to come, dance and celebrate in the streets. Moving your body to the top dance hits of years past brought a feeling of nostalgia, almost a commemoration of all New Yearâ€™s Eves that have come before. Despite rich and ancient histories, countries in Asia show signs of greatness still to come. Their populations are increasingly dominated by young people, often under the age of 30. This energy is contagious for tourists of all ages as they dance in this fountain of youth, feeling even younger as another year passes. It was a joy to see all the faces of other Asians around me, of those visiting from neighboring countries and from around the continent. People from around the world danced together, united by a sense of unlimited freedom highlighted by the pulse of the music and the sparkle of bottle rockets illuminating their faces. For just one night I didnâ€™t need any excuse to smile, make eye contact and wish them a better year to come.