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Cambodia’s Countryside

otres beach in sihanoukville

Cambodia’s Countryside

Words and Photos by Hannah Loaring

Location: From Cambodia

The day begins much like any other. We dress, hurriedly bundle our scattered belongings into our daypacks with little care for creases, grab our helmets, and with one quick check under the bed, we are out the door and greeted by our travel companions, Sophia and Russ.

But today is not like any other. Today is different, and my heart is heavy with the knowledge that we have come to an ending of sorts: the end of our Cambodian road trip, traversing the countryside on a rusty 125cc Honda with two strangers who have become firm friends.

“I could almost feel my chest crack open as I let go of my tension and stress, my fears and reservations, and gave way to the countless possibilities that awaited us.”

We first met Sophia and Russ back in Battambang over a month ago. We’d been crossing their path for the past few days, drinking at the same bars, eating at the same restaurants, each time a smile of recognition passed between us. But it wasn’t until we came face to face as my partner Lee and I made our way out of a tiny cave in the hillside at Wat Banan that we finally exchanged words, and agreed that this serendipitous meeting was surely a sign that we should meet again. And so we did, the very next evening, to share beers and travel stories well into the night, before deciding to write a new one together on a month long adventure across Cambodia by motorbike.

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8 Hours on a Lao Boat to Watch a Woman Pick Her Nose by Jacob Moss

Eight Hours on a Lao Boat to Watch a Woman Pick Her Nose

Words and Photos by Jacob Moss

8 Hours

Location: From Luang Prabang, the Mekong and the Nam Ou river, into the remote village of Nong Khiaw, Laos.

The white, hand-made miniature wooden chair seems as if it has been transplanted from some eleven-year-old girl’s tea house. Lashed with rope to the side of the cardboard boat that’s bobbing on the water as if nodding, confirming your initial thought; for the next eight hours, you should have considered travel insurance and brought an extra fluffy pillow.

“Scenes of village life and of a people and an economy dragged along by agriculture like a plough being dragged by a buffalo remind me of a time I never lived.”

From the ex-colonial town of Luang Prabang, where baguettes and croissants are found alongside noodles and rice in any restaurant’s menu, I board a boat on the Mekong heading north to the Nam Ou river. This trip came recommended as an “insider tip” from a German restaurateur married to a Lao girl: “Don’t take the slow boat along the Mekong into Thailand – that’s what all the tourists do,” he advised. “Go north on the local boat along the Nam Ou river – the scenery is far more spectacular.”
Not a local is to be seen on the suggested boat, which leaves Luang Prabang full of tourists, heading north against the current.
Like most of South East Asia, no matter how hard a person tries to travel independently here, the foreigner is always handicapped, disabled in some way. All roads lead back to the well-oiled tourist trail, whether you like it or not. There are few places left where tourists are yet to plant their flag.
Soured with this reality on this particular day, I sit at the rear of the boat in an attempt to avoid conversation. (read more…)

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