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Brian Thom’s Travel Diary

Friday, 08 Jun 2007

Location: Vientiane, Laos

MapOur final day in Phnom Penh we decided to get out and do something. We were told by the King's staff that there was F-1 racing for $1/minute, and we believed this to be too good (or dangerous) to be true. We knew we would check it out, so I suppose Wednesday was the day. As we approached the track, I noticed that it was in the immediate vicinity of the good ol' shooting range. The same one with all the goodies I have described earlier. We were tempted a bit because this time we came with more money, and as well our driver asked us about 30 times if we wanted to go trigger-happy, but... we had already done that, so onto bigger and better things like F-1 racing. Turns out that F-1 racing was just your standard Go-Kart fixed with a lawnmower's (or something) engine. These things could rip around pretty quick, and the track was actually fairly impressive, with lots of turns and the occasional straight-away in case you really felt the need to put your rickety shaking Go-Kart to the limits. Yes, these puppies maxed at about 70km/hour we were told, but on the bright side there was somebody operating this place with safety in mind so you were given racing helmets. We were even offered the racing suits, but declined since it was just the two of us. It was too bad, we agreed, that we would only be racing each other, and we paid $19 for 20 minutes (special discount). Ten minutes, a break, and then ten minutes more (2 races). One of two things are true about that first race. Either Andrew is a supremely better driver than I (most likely), or my Kart went about half the damn speed because that punk lapped me like 3 times. Embarassing, but my cousin Paul knows especially how great a Go-Kart driver I am. At our break a couple Scottish guys arrived, and just to add to the fun we paid for our Tuk-Tuk driver to race as well. He was pretty pumped I think, and after all was said and done when we were leaving, he kept asking us to go to the shooting range (maybe he was hoping for a round or two). The second race was much better, I must say it was a lot of fun despite the lack of a true F-1 automobile.

We made it back to the hotel and Diamond tried his damndest to try and get us to go to the nightclub again. Neither of us really felt like it. That night, the King removed the shirt and commenced the belly rub at the youthful time of 8:00pm. He was an odd man.

Yesterday we flew into Vientiane which is the capital city of Laos. Laos has about 6,000,000 people and it is very French. Some of the menus at restaurants are all French, so it took some recalling from High School to try and figure out what the hell I was ordering. In comparison to Cambodia, I like Laos a lot better. It has sidewalks, and we haven't had those since Nha Trang in Vietnam (in a lot of southeast Asia you have you walk on the road while motorbikes get the sidewalks, seems backwards, I know...). There is road construction everywhere and instead of motorbikes people drive cars. The Scottish dudes back at the Go-Karts had told us that Laos is "a little more rustic than Cambodia", and I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled at the sound of that. But maybe I just don't know what 'rustic' really means because this place is nicer, and seems wealthier. Less tourists, less hounding, much nicer. The people are very friendly, and kind, just like everywhere. We really haven't run into anybody that wasn't willing to walk to the end of Earth for you.

We organized a trip tomorrow to go to Vang Vienh (sp?), which is a town directly north. During the day we are going kayaking down a river and then mountain biking back to a truck. The next day we will be in Luang... uhh... Luang Vonh? Something like that. But from Luang we will head west into Thailand and arrive at Chang Mai by the 12th. Part of this journey requires the use of a speedboat which is great because... it isn't a bus. So that's the plan. Other than the Go-Karts there isn't a whole lot to report just because we've been using the days to travel and fly and eat, and those things take up a lot of time! I believe Andrew and I are starting to miss home quite a bit. 5 Weeks is a long time, let alone 8, and when you talk to travellers who have been gone for periods of 6, 10 or 12 months... you have to wonder a bit how they do it.