Plain of Jars: Xieng Khouang, Laos

Here lies Allison Declercq-Matthas, the Canadian too stupid to stay within the safe-path markers. The thought coursed through my mind, ricocheting back and forth. Tentatively lowering my foot toward the next narrow patch of packed earth I cursed my curiosity. Other tourists milled about at the bottom of the hill, a colony of colourful carefree ants marching from jar to jar. I pictured how, for a split second, they would collectively duck and snap their eyes in the direction of my explosive end, then scatter like frightened doves. They’d have an inkling of what happened, and perhaps know that they were safe, but they’d run away just the same.

Then, after they’d fled and their cries had bled away, peace would settle in. A silence—absent from the plain since the years following American planes littering the area with bombs—would blanket my grave.

And that’s when my nerve ran out. With an about-face that would have inspired even the strictest of sergeants I began to creep back to the embedded stones marking the main path at Site 1 of the Plain of Jars.

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Xieng Khouang Province to Pakse, Laos

The bus was speeding down the road as though creatures from the shadowed pits of hell were nipping at its back bumper. It swerved and dodged the potholes flashing through the headlights. When it missed, the bus jerked and jolted. My body was thrown about as I clung to my backpack and the shred of hope of sleeping through this nightmare.

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Travelling to Siem Reap, Cambodia

So after giving you an introduction to Cambodia’s circus skills I figured I should back-track and let you know about the trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap in case I have anything helpful to share.

I was travelling solo. Yep one of the things I learned was that I am in fact capable of travelling solo. I even managed to slow my sprinting heart rate down and relax for most of the trip.

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Death Railway: Kanchanaburi

To recap, a group of 14 and I left Bangkok on a bus aiming for Kanchanaburi on a Saturday at 7 a.m. When we arrived two hours later we immediately boarded a bus headed for Erawan National Park and its famous seven falls. After hours of fun there we found ourselves without transport back to town—with no seats left the last bus was obviously full. We were forced to squeeze onto that bus and stand in the aisle all the way back.

Learning our lesson and following the advice of fellow students met at the falls we aimed for a set of guest houses called Sugar Cane and Jelly Frog as soon as we disembarked from the bus in Kanchanaburi. Our party swept into a two-bench taxi called a songthaew and we haggled for a ten baht per person price.

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Kanchanaburi and Erawan Park

You’re an exchange student with no to very-little money or even student debt that you don’t want to deepen. Yet, you’re in another country and you don’t want to waste the opportunity. Continue reading “Kanchanaburi and Erawan Park”