Monday, August 17, 2009

Relaxing on the Mekong

After I came back from New Zealand a bit more than a week ago, I only had little time to settle in Bangkok. Me and Kawadjan planned a trip to the South of Laos for the Queen's Birthday, which was on last Wednesday.

So, only 4 days after arriving, I was on the plane to Ubon Ratchathani with Kawadjan. As you could expect from us two faggots, this would be one GAY holiday - and it started off early!

When we got off the plane at Ubon, we were looking for a songteaw or some other transport which would bring us to the bus station. There was nothing.

Soon after though, a gay Singaporean (or so I thought, he turned out to be Bruneian) and his Thai boyfriend started to talk to us.

After an estimated 2 minutes, he (the Bruneian, his Thai bf was too shy) told us about his ex-boyfriends and language skills, and asked us whether we were a couple and whether we sometimes have sex together...

His Thai bf seemed to like us and quietly suggested we should come with his mum and dad to his native village...we let them drive us to the bus station and thanked them.

This little encounter reminded me why I really love Thailand. The Thai bf's parents showed absolutely no hesitation to help us and his mum could hardly stop talking to me, sometimes grabbing my arm to lead me into the right direction...very nice!!!

Moments later we were on the international bus across the border to Pakse in the south of Laos. On the bus, Kawadjan found a new girlfriend...since we had no seats, we both sat at the back of the bus on the floor or the luggage compartment, where kawadjan bonded happily with a Lao girl, who took a dozen pictures of us...

The border to Laos was just about the strangest border I have ever seen im my life. You arrive on the Thai side in a huge building which, according to Lonely Planet looks like a giant Nacho bowl, where the Nachos are purple. How true!

Then, you basically walk across the border on a dirt-track where you are going to pass ladies selling bamboo shoots, fruits, cows grazing, and a few little huts, which looked semi-official.

After we finally found the border control building, we tried to enter Laos. Since I am a rich farang, I have to get a visa for 30$US (my country is the cheapest for some reason, others, such as Canadians have to pay 40$US). I needed to fill out three forms (!) and supply a picture. I didnt have a picture, but smiling at the Lao border guard and speaking some minimal Lao seemed to put them into a mild mood!

After crossing, we went to the market and got some food. This bloody border is so porous I could not believe it. Anyone could have just walked past all these houses, cows and market stands, no one would have noticed!!!

After changing into a songteaw in Pakse, we soon arrived in Champasak, our first destination.

In Champasak, we were greeted by two kathoeys (the only ones I saw on the whole trip!!!) They let us pass to the ferry, which brought us to Champasak proper, across the mighty Mekong.

The river should become the dominating theme of our trip. Currently, it is the rainy season, so the river is very high, has a muddy reddish-brown colour and at times is impossibly wide. (it looked more like a lake to me)

Champasak is famous for its Angkor-style temple, Wat Phu. The sun started to set as we arrived there and the background of luscious green colours of the grass against the ancient ruins were a spectacular sight!

As I stood atop the temple, I couldnt stop noticing that during the same time in Europe, castles were built, which have massive grey walls and which were all about protection from the enemy. At the same time, the builders of Wat Phu just couldnt stop designing this place: lakes, elaborate stairs lined with trees, terraces and temples - amazing!

Then, the tuk-tuk driver brought us back to a guesthouse, which belonged to his brother. We took the fancy air-con room and me, and later also Kawadjan joined the owner and his family for some Beer Lao.

This was not the last time we had Beer Lao. On the opposite, holidays in Laos seem to revolve around Beer Lao, lab (minced meat dish) and chatting with friendly people. Among the family, the youngest member had to pour the glass, which would be consumed as quickly as possible by the temporary owner (yes there is only one glass!).

This ensured that everyone got equally drunk and that we all had a great time. Besides, the owner's nephew was a sight to behold...cute!!! And he gave me stares too! But I was a bit shocked to find out that he was only 16...(picture will follow!)

Lao guys, as I knew from my last trip already, are really gorgeous friendly people, quite curious too! They do a lot of manual work, so they build up some nice muscles! But since they work hard, they also age very fast!

In the guesthouse, kawadjan and me were reminded that Lao is still a very conservative and closed country. People go to bed around 9 or 10pm, there is an official curfew at 11pm (if you dont close your bar, you get fined!) and people are up again by 5am or so.

Also, it is forbidden for non-married couples to sleep together! The same holds for foreigners and any Lao person (unless married).

Article 3 on the guesthouse reads: "In the hotel-guesthouse, do not have man and woman sleep together if they have not husband and wife!"

Luckily, kawadjan and me are both men, so we were not too fussed about this:P

The next day, we made our way to the very south of Laos, where the 4000 islands (Si Pan Don) are formed by the mighty Mekong, which is making its way south to Cambodia.

Si Pan Don is a relatively new kid on the block in terms of tourism, and guest houses offering cheap (from 2US$) bamboo hut accomodation are springing up like mushrooms.

Rightly so! The scenery is amazing. The river, filled up right to the top breaks up in a few fastly moving streams, which make their way down through gorges, rapids and waterfalls, which can be observed from the islands.

Around the islands, traditional villages give an impression of what Lao life was 50 years ago, and still is now. There are dozens of kids playing, animals of all sorts crossing your path, and buffaloes calmly grazing the shores when they are not busy on the rice fields.

For me, having not grown up in the tropics, the sight of shiny green rice fields and towering coconut trees on the shore of the Mekong was just simply fantastic. Here are some impressions:

Progress however is coming to Si Pan Don at quick speed. Since last week, one of the islands, Don Khon (where we stayed) is connected to the power grid! Consequently, we saw people putting up satellite dishes, and where the TV had been installed, dozens of people congregating to watch Thai TV.

The other island, Don Det, is more popular with travellers due to its "Khao San" feeling, wide availability of drugs, cheaper accomodation.

Actually, we DID not very many things. In the morning, we'd head out to one of the many restaurants to have some delicious Pho (noodle soup). Then, we'd rent a bike and find a place to have some lunch - and our first Beer Lao of the day, before doing much the same in the afternoon.

It was always enormously important to get a good stop before sunset, because that is when the locals showered. They showered in the muddy waters of the Mekong, and god forbid, these views can be amazing. Hunky young Lao boys in tight underwear, cleaning themselves in the Mekong on more than one occasion totally blew us away!

We also enjoyed a very good relationship with some of the waiters. Especially in one restaurant, the boy started to understand that we were gays and that we liked him. He enjoyed the attention very much.

On the last day, we bought some silk off his shop, and he showed me which ones I should buy so I would look beautiful (he used the Lao word ngaam which is only used for women)....and he even suggested he could look ngaam too!!!

I bought some silk clothes and kawadjan and me did some "camwhoring" with our matchy-matchy skirts. In the evening, we showed the waiter the pictures we took in his silk and he was thrilled...:)

A more negative story sadly also happened during these four days on the islands. When kawadjan and me sat down for a beer at some place, the owner (26yo, like me) relatively quickly revealed that he was gay and that he thought we were a couple.

NO, we are still not a couple, but it was interesting to listen to his stories of being gay in Laos. Apparently, he has some foreign friends which want him come to their farangland, and he also has farang friends in Pattaya and Phuket.

In the meantime, he had actually been to Pattaya BUT ONLY FOR THE BEACH, of which he assured us about 4 times.

He went on to tell us stories of travellers, which he sucked off and fucked too. He didnt stop emphasising how much he liked farangs and how dark cocks make him vomit. He should have looked at himself.......

By that time I had to go to the toilet (you feel what is going to happen, yeah?). The toilet was in the backyard of his guesthouse, facing the kitchen. I did my deed and wanted to leave. But there was Mister Aek, who hurriedly asked me if I am not boyfriends with kawadjan, and whether we would really not have sex....

He also asked me whether I have a boyfriend...I said yes, but it was too late, he simply grabbed my crotch. And he grabbed it hard, it hurt!

I was shocked and shouted and hurriedly went back to kawadjan and urged him to pay so we could leave. I didnt dare telling kawadjan what happened, because there were other travellers. The host, Mister Aek did however have the audacity to appear with a camera, wanting to take pictures of me....

He also explained kawadjan how he thought my dick was hard, so "we in Laos do it like this" and he felt empowered to just feel me up.

What an ASSHOLE! I was really shocked. I had never been sexually harassed before, and I really think that it is not a laughable matter at all.

This was not just a friendly clap on the butt, this was a forceful grabbing of my cock!!!...I left a scathing remark on, which is a popular website for Southeast Asian travellers...

This did sour the stay in Laos a little bit, but all in all, I had a lovely time again in this wonderful country with its wonderful people...


Anonymous said...

Great report! Except for the reverse sexual harassment.

kawadjan said...

Cool account of the trip! It was fun with you, bitch. :-)

samart said...

Poor thing! Someone shows he's interested in you, and you run away screaming...
I remember some years ago when it was common to grab each others dick while dancing on the dance floor in a well known Bangkok discotheque, which was part of the fun, and I enjoyed it!
I really like your photos, what a beautiful landscape!

BB said...

thank you anon!:)

kawadjan, thank you too for the great trip...was great doing "nothing" with you...:) sorry for the late computer has died. I hope I can recover the photos again...

samart. thank you for the compliments...but I think you misunderstood me. there is a difference between a fun clap on someone's buttocks at DJ Station is different from a forceful grabbing of one's cock.

just because this man is gay too does not mean I want to have sex with him...

Bangkok hotels said...

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Christian said...

Interesting story, great photos. The translation of the articles was probably done by a non-native English speaker? It sounds strange to me. “Do not have man and woman sleep together if they have not husband and wife!" do they mean “are husband and wife” instead of “have” or does this mean, once you are married, you may sleep with any other married person (and not only the one married to you)? This again shows that I have to start social drinking (I’m a teetotaller)! Recently, I had to leave a party because it was unbearable as the only sober member left.

Mr_Dome said...

Imho, there is a lot of prejudice around that to be gay means to be 'oversexed' and it can be taken as an invitation to just touch a person's private parts.

Also, Asian guys are quite more physical with each other compared to the West and grabbing is common.

Plus, he was probably horny and had some experiences with horny foreigners and has started to generalize "that's what they all want/are like".

The avoidance of loss of face is very important, so I hope you did not make too much of a fuss after returning (I know this sounds really mean but sometimes in Asia even when a victim you need to not insist on your western rights sometimes in order for the whole situation to spiral out of control - and this is unfortunately always an option close at hand. As much as I love SE Asia, it has to be said).

I also noticed that post on travelfish was not there (anymore?).

Mr_Dome said...

Just to make it more clear: I hope you did not make too much of a fuss after returning from the incident to the bar/resto area and facing Mr. Aek in public again (not home from the trip).

BB said...

imho there are a lot of prejudices and perhaps even misjudgements you are using in your statements.

I see your opinion but I really have to disagree. touching someone sexually in a violent way (which he did) is unacceptable. be it in bolivia, sweden or laos. no cultural relativism please. this is a not friendly hugging (which CAN be more common in asia, but perhaps even more among straight friends than gay people)

indeed he can generalise. but there are two points which speak against this as a valid reason for his actions.
1. I did NEVER signal any interest whatsoever.
2. he could have used innuendoes and be friendly, nice and still clearly imply he wants to sleep with me.

I find it a bit presumptuous of you to say that I might have caused him to lose face. in fact, he came back to the table and the dining area and spoke loudly about this incident to my friend, with other guests right behind us. I never mentioned anything and just asked my friend to please leave with me asap.

it was him who caused me to lose face because he spoke casually and bemused about this incident while I chose to keep quiet.

besides, what do you exactly mean by western rights? is it a western right not to be able to be touched sexually in a forceful way?

I hope you care about the person who was violated a bit more the next time as opposed to the perpetrator. thanks.