Long time coming - Riley's Asia report No.1
· 23 July 2004 ·

Hello my friends one and all

This is your friend Riley, I am doing well. No I have not become deceased in my travels throughout this breathtaking land of Southeast Asia, I am just a lazy man, and the internet came to Laos less than a year ago so it could be interesting at times to find a connection. Many things have happened in the 37 days I have been traveling, a few minor setbacks that were thoroughly discouraging have kept me from emailing everyone. I in fact have attempted this “mass Email” thing twice before and hopefully it actually works this time instead of deleting my entire multi-page message…I hate computers with a passion, and it takes something special to pull me out of my hammock. But anyway, I have already written so much yet said nothing at all. We have determined that I am alive and well, involved with a hammock, and hate computers.

Moving on, so it all started with spending a month in Laos. We got to know the country from the bottom up, literally. We started off traveling directly (or however directly you can travel in Laos), to a small chain of islands in the very southern reaches of the Mekong River in Laos called the Four thousand Islands, which are really about 20 small grassy things some may call islands, But who’s counting? Certainly not the Laos people, they are far too relaxed and also coincidentally my favorite people I have ever met. They proved to be the prettiest, most reasonable, honest, chill people. I was one this little island called Don Det for about 5 days and didn’t see myself in the mirror for about 4 of them, I spent great amounts of the time walking around wearing only one article of clothing, (my Thai pants), and aimlessly strolling around the island and getting laughed at by all the old women. They were particularly laughy when chewing the “Betel Nut” which is this nut that has slight hallucinogenic and narcotic properties. Other than making them quiet goofy and friendly it also dies their teeth a dark red (I’ll Pass). They were probably my favorite part of Laos, these crazy old women. You could find them during some hot parts of the day wandering around tending to business in their bras and traditional dresses. They took you in and treated you nice. It is funny, by all appearances some would almost think that they were running the show, the father was usually quietly in the background tinkering on something or cutting bamboo, always with slow deliberate moves, no shirt on and always gently puffing on a cigarette.

Good people and good times it was, except I lost my favorite pair of cheesy aviators that I had for ages off the tin roof of this Longtail Boat traveling down the Mekong. I was trying to take a picture of these young native boys who I later dubbed “Bucket Boys” who we were talking to. I didn’t know what their purpose for being on board was until we started to take on water, You see the ferry boat captain, one of the only fat Laos I met, and quiet a jolly fellow, well this “captain” (i use the term loosely since I doubt he even had a drivers permit) , this guy agreed to ferry not only us, but also multitudes of women with all kinds of produce and goods, and also a load of cement bags, ceramic roofing tiles and steel rebar. Now I am sure these goods drastically improved the living standards of the nameless hill tribe’s village that they were destined for, but I could care less at the time. I was only concerned with the fact that is left the water line on our boat less than 4 inches above the water, but there aren’t many waves on the Mekong and we made it about 135 kilometers down the river (nine hours later) and ran into rough currents (with little waves. We had to emergency land twice to kick off more women with chickens so that we were just that much more out of the water, we finally made it to the construction material drop off spot and our spirits rose with every cement bag that was lifted out of it. By the time all the construction material was taken off we were feeling a lot better as were the old women who got all their food wet, and we were multiple feet out of the water and feeling quiet relieved when who gets on but a young man sporting camo, AK-47 in hand, with the “US ARMY” satchel full of ammo as a fashion statement. He and his buddy with another satchel of ammo hop on, and things got a little tense for awhile, but he soon proved to be just another nice Laos person.

After this part of the trip time past very quickly and so much more happened, the worst of which was having my money belt disappear from my room with passport and travelers checks included. Thankfully the Laos P.D.R is a fairly understanding communist country and our U.S. embassy was quiet helpful. After a short dark spell in their shitty capital city of Vien Chien I met back up with my friends Evan and Liz (the couch guy Dave went AWOL weeks before) and things have been golden once again. We met our favorite mate Colin Bean in Bangkok and he has been a welcome addition to the party, …jesus I have been on the computer typing for a long time, too long….We visited many ruins blah, blah blah, I am now pleased to say I am near the salt water again, actually perched above this crescent moon beach on the Island of Ko Pan Ngan and in a quiet mellow mood. I started to kinda freak out at one point and then I realized I had never been away from the ocean for more than a month in 19 years, but I am here now and everything is ok. I am in a very mellow mood and have devoted my present life to the FRISBEE GODS who I pray actively to for about 3 hours at least a day, and to good books, warm hammocks, cool breezes and even cooler beers. It a beautiful thing this land, I now only await the “Full moon Party” and the thousand that will flock to this small island to party for one night solid and try to remember all of it. I got about 7 days and counting I think. Well by any rate pray for me, it will be one hell of a party, but I have had the last 37 days to get quiet good at it. My thoughts and dreams of cool weather are with you. Take care my friends, make sure to have a good time no matter where this summer has found you and I will see you soon.

Your friend Riley Market

Written by Riley Market


  1. pat    Jul 24, 03:42 AM    #