Author Archives: Nicole Pirrie


Melaka is a port city a couple of hours south east of Kuala Lumpur. It is billed as the historic city of Malaysia and has the UNESCO status to prove it. Melaka has been inhabited and run by a range of people from the Malays to the Dutch and a whole host of others in between. The variety of inputs from the different countries and cultures give this small city an unusual feel.

Clock tower Melaka   Museum Boat Melaka

The colours of the buildings and placement of statues made the city feel almost preserved and a little like a model town.

Windmill Malaka      Water wheel Melaka

Hugh and I stayed in Malaka for a few days, enjoying the break from the bigger cities and soaking up the atmosphere. During in our time in Melaka we sampled a wide range of satay; all of it delicious. One place had a cook-it-yourself table. After only three weeks in Malaysia, I’m not sure we were quite ready to be let loose on it. The queue of people waiting to get in to one popular satay cafe were certainly amused by our DIY efforts.

DIY Satay   Rice parcels

There were also the mandatory Chinatown and Little India areas where we sampled some excellent dishes including dosa and thali. It also took us three weeks to figure out that pulled tea (teh tarik) is what the Malaysians call masala chai. I was confused when I could see people drinking it but was then told by the waiter they didn’t serve it. It did make me think they were keeping all the chai to themselves! and samosas just aren’t the same without chai…

China town satay Melaka   Thali Melaka

Malaysian Batik

While in Kuala Lumpur I decided to try my hand at batik. It is a traditional textile art found in many countries but styles differ. Malaysian batik tends to use large simple patterns and favours flower and leaf motifs. So that’s what I chose – a fitting reminder of my time in Malaysia.

Malaysian Batik

Stage 1 is the drawing of the design on to my chosen fabric – a white T-shirt – using a fabric pencil. Wax is then applied to the outline on the fabric using a ‘chanting’ (a little copper pot with a spout and long handle). This provides a paint and water resistant outline for my design.

Pencil and wax outline

Paint is then applied with a soft brush to fill in the design.

Painting the fabric yellow         Yellow flower completed

In the workshop they have tubs of ready mixed colours lined up ready for the artists to use. Malaysian batik uses brighter more vibrant colours than Indonesian batik. Although the colours are so striking on the fabric, they are dark and rich in the pot.

Pre mixed colours

A second brush dipped in water is applied in swirling strokes over the colour to achieve the graduated colour effect.

Orange flower     Graduted  colour green leaves

When the paint is dry the wax is heated to remove it, leaving a clear outline that creates a contrast between shapes and colours. For this design, a background colour is applied to enhance the outline of the flower shapes.

Finished paint and wax design

The fabric is left to dry overnight before the wax is heated and removed. Finally, the T-shirt is washed to remove the initial pencil outline.

The finished product:

Finished batik t-shirt


I had a few little mishaps with the paint but it was great fun and I learnt a new skill. I will definitely be trying this again.

Penang hill/Bukit Bendera

“If you haven’t been to Penang hill, you haven’t been to Penang!” The leaflet in our guest house made some bold promises and Hugh and I were keen to check them out. Penang hill or Bukit Bendera, was a one-time hill station and summertime retreat of the British during colonial rule. The weather had been unbearably humid since our arrival and we fancied some fresh air and a break from city life, up on the hill.

An hour’s bus ride from Georgetown and we arrived at Air Itam, the town at the bottom of Bukit Bendera. I had high hopes for this hill station and initially I wasn’t disappointed. The first sight that greeted me was the track for the funicular railway that cut in to the dense foliage. It was almost vertical. And long. The track seemed to stretch on forever. No problem. I’ve been up higher. Still. It was a long way up.

Funicular train


After purchasing our tickets we queued for the train for what seemed like forever. Reaching the front of the line I found out why; everyone had their picture taken theme park roller-coaster style before getting on the train. Now I was getting nervous. This was surely just a standard funicular rail ride to the top, right? Yes, I was right. Ten minutes later and we arrived safely at the top. The photograph turned out to be just the first of many visitor souvenir opportunities.

Penang from the funicular track

At the top it turned out this wasn’t like any other hill station we’d seen,  it was more like a children’s play park in the trees. Straight out of the train exit we were the focus of attention. Did we want drinks, ice creams, fruit juices, audio guides, plastic toys…? The smell of fried food was overwhelming. Hugh and I retreated to a corner with a fruit juice to get our bearings.

Owl museum


Strangely enough it seemed that the main attraction was an owl museum. That was a little too Alan Partridge for me so we headed out towards the trees to see what else was on offer. A Hindu temple, a mosque, several flower gardens that required an entry fee and bungalows-  Midsomer murders style country bungalows labelled as ‘convalescent’ that were occupied. Not too awkward. Moving away from the crowds, we went in search of a viewpoint. Despite the height, the hill was only marginally cooler than Georgetown but the air was remarkably fresher.

English post box PG hill

Rounding a corner, the noise quickly dissipated and we were surrounding only by trees. Following the path we found a viewpoint and it felt like the whole of Penang stretched out before us. We could see the skyscrapers, the bay and across to the mainland.

Foggy view of Penang

The path continued on for several kilometres through trees, zigzagging through the trees at ground and canopy Level. I looked carefully for monkeys, squirrels or any other animals that might be lurking in the trees but was out of luck. After a while we noticed there weren’t any other visitors around and it was getting dark so we wandered back towards the crowds.

Back at the visitor hub we had the opportunity to have our pictures taken with parrots, snakes and lizards but we declined. Instead we went back to the funicular railway and sped down to the bottom of the hill and back to the city. It wasn’t quite the hill station I was expecting and I wouldn’t say it was indicative of Penang but the view and canopy walk certainly made it worth the trip.


Kanchanaburi. To most people this place name won’t mean anything. It’s a little town three hours west of Bangkok and the Mae Khlong river runs through it. Still not sure? The Mae Khlong was renamed the Khwae Yai river – home to the bridge over the river Kwai.

Our journey began when we boarded the train in Bangkok. It was a typical stiflingly hot day and the train crawled from station to station. As soon as the train reached the city limits it sped up, the skyscrapers turned to endless rice paddys populated by water buffalo and we clickety-clacked past scenes of rural life in Thailand.

I was enjoying the cool breeze and open country when the train pulled up at Nong Pla Duk station. There I saw a wooden signboard near the platform. It stated simply that this station marked the beginning of the Thai-Burma railway otherwise known as the Death railway. From here on we would be riding the railway built by prisoners of war during World War Two.

Arriving in Kanchanaburi, I didn’t know what to expect. I had read POW memoirs that painted a vivid picture of dense jungle, unbearable humidity, mosquitoes, snakes, scorpions and many other creatures. What I found was a pretty little town with winding back streets, cafes and a bustling night life.

In the centre of town, the river Kwai was hidden from view by the shops and guesthouses. Hugh and I were fortunate enough to stay on a river raft. From there we had an unspoilt view down river of the Thai countryside and a fabulous wat.

Raft View

The next day we set out early and visited the railway museum. Walking under a section of the original bridge, I entered the inner exhibition rooms. Displayed on two floors were stories, pictures and artifacts from the death railway period.

Railway Museum

Two hours later and my vague notions of this area had been cemented into understanding of how the railway had been built and how the POWs were treated. With every new story I read or picture I saw, the railway seemed like a feat of human endurance. Many of the prisoners looked like walking skeletons and had diseases such as cholera yet they carried on until the end.

Stories I had read prior to visiting the museum told of how the prisoners had been transported in metal cargo containers on the railways. This is something that can’t be comprehended until you’ve experienced the heat of Asia and then stood inside a reconstructed container.

Despite the stories of hardship, the exhibitions displayed artifacts that displayed ingenuity and a desire to survive in spite of the horrific circumstances. Prisoners fashioned radios to get snippets of news that would bring hope; diaries were kept even with the knowledge that discovery by the captors would mean instant death; wood and bamboo were used by prisoners to make game boards such as chess or backgammon.

At the end of the exhibition was a cafe and we were gratefully provided with a free cup of tea. Hugh and I sat at the window which overlooked the war cemetery, reflecting on the museum and the stories we had read. Soon after, we made the five kilometre walk from the town centre to the bridge and Kwae Yai river.

Kanchanaburi POW cemetery

Seeing the bridge for then first time was breathtaking. I had read so much about it and seen so many pictures of this iconic structure. On one bank there were souvenir stalls and refreshment stands; on the river itself were floating restaurants.

Bridge over the Kwai Yai river

The opposite bank was home to a temple with an oversized statue of a deity that reached above the tree line and towered over the river. It then became clear that the heat was the only similarity between the current day and when the bridge was built.

Temple by the bridge

I felt this area was almost touristy to the point of ruin until I stepped on to the bridge. Then I remembered how it had been built. Walking across the bridge filled me with a sense of gravity and the further away I got from the tourist attractions, the more I could appreciate what the bridge stood for. I walked to the end and stared off down the line.  The dark history contrasted with the sunlit tracks, which curved away from me and into the jungle. I knew this place had more of its story to tell but for now it was time to part ways. I turned around and headed back to the crowds of Kanchanaburi.

Thai-Burma railway

Five Days in Phnom Penh

Looking back on my time in Phnom Penh, I have very mixed feelings about the city. I think this reflects the experiences I had there.

After a comfortable and hassle-free six hour journey from Saigon (as advertised), we arrived in Phnom Penh. We hopped off the bus before its final stop because our guest house looked close on the map.

Walking down Norodom boulevard with the Independence monument behind us, we were initially impressed. The roads were clear the pavements wide and the area was generally clean.

Turning towards the river front, the next set of streets were a different story. Rubbish was piled high every few steps which resulted in an unholy smell and the area was generally dirty and run down. After reading that the river front had undergone renovation this came as a shock.

Our guesthouse was clean and functional but we felt it was overpriced. Vietnam had spoiled us! We decided to reserve judgment on this city until we had seen it in daylight and more detail.

Our first day in Phnom Penh we gathered up our laundry and headed off for breakfast. A helpful man sitting in reception told us that laundry could be done for $1.50 a kilo. After being told at several places laundry was $2 a kilo, we gave up and went to sit by the river to eat.

Satisfactorily fed and watered, our next task was to find a sim card. Some more helpful information pointed us in the direction of the Independence monument yet again. We set off at a brisk pace, keen to get on with some sight seeing.

Twenty minutes later in the 40 degree heat we were feeling delirious and like a mirage in the desert, an ice cream parlour appeared at the side of the road. A sign also claimed that it was 2-4-1 Friday. Feeling the cold blast of AC as we stepped through the glass doors confirmed we weren’t dreaming.

An hour later and slightly jittery from overly sweet ice-cream sundaes, we had purchased a sim card and could get to know Phnom Penh. All of this had been achieved while still carrying 3 kilos of dirty washing.

Day two was more enjoyable. After checking in to a nearby hotel (breakfast included, laundry done on-site) we walked along the river front towards Wat Phnom. At the southern end of the promenade, the Tonle Sap river meets the Mekong. There the confluence is so wide it is like looking at the sea. During our stay in Phnom Penh, Hugh and I spent hours by the river watching the boats bobbing about and the locals wading in to cast their fishing nets.

Reaching Wat Phnom was like finding the eye of the storm. At the top of the hill stood a brilliantly white stupa. The curving lines of the stupa and prayer flags gently flapping in the breeze created an air of calm. Choosing a bench under a tree, we sat and watched the world go by, appreciating the quiet of the temple grounds

On our walk about the city we happened across a mall. In need of some AC and a cold drink, we went in to investigate. In the middle of a capital city on a Saturday afternoon, the mall was empty.

On each level there were benches and on these benches, in groups, sat the shop workers. They were chatting, eating, texting and embroidering. It was a surreal experience and I suggested we move on.

Our tour of the city then took us to some eclectic little side streets filled with welcoming looking eateries. In one such place, we had the pleasure of watching a thunderstorm. They are occurring regularly now but sitting by an open door listening to the rain and watching the lightning draw patterns on the sky is relaxing.

Three days in, Hugh and I felt it was time to visit the genocide museums. First up was Tuol Sleng detention centre. This building was a school used by the Khmer Rouge to detain and torture people they thought were acting against their regime.

Former classrooms had been turned into cells or interrogation rooms and seemingly innocent objects had been turned into items of torture.  Other rooms contained make-shift cells, hastily constructed out of bricks or wooden planks.

In every room there was evidence of incarceration. Rows of numbers on walls to demarcate prisoners, marks on the floor showing where partitions had once stood and metal hoops cemented to the tiles that once held chains or shackles. Rusted, barbed wire mesh covered the open terraces; designed to stop prisoners jumping to their deaths.

An upstairs row of classrooms contained statements written under duress by prisoners and finally there were statements documenting what had happened in Tuol Sleng by the few people that had survived.

One block of classrooms contained seemingly endless boards of black and white photographs. Every person that passed through here was documented. They would all eventually be taken to the killing fields.

Further exploration of the city took us along the riverfront to the royal palace and then out to the killing fields. After several days of focusing on the country’s dark history coupled with our disappointment in Phnom Penh, we decided it was time to move on and discover what else Cambodia had to offer.

Cheoung Ek Genocide Memorial

Visiting the killing fields is something we wanted to do but not something we looked forward to.

The tuk-tuk ride from Phnom Penh took about 30 minutes and as we approached the edge of the city, blue skies turned to black clouds. Rain lashed down, turning the road into a river, while thunder boomed and lightning cracked overhead. We decided to brave the weather and carried on regardless. Eventually city roads turned into gravel paths and we were bouncing along through villages and past temples.

The rain had started to ease as we turned in to the car park but the thunder and lightning continued on unabated. Neither of us were sure what to expect. We walked in through the small side gate and paid for our ticket. A friendly worker gave us our audio guide and an umbrella. Placing on the headphones and being sheltered by the giant umbrella, I realised that this would be a very solitary and personal experience. Walking down the path, I saw the grey and yellow memorial stupa; both beautiful and sombre. Each of the four sides is made up of glass doors and windows. Moving closer I could see seventeen levels inside, each one layered with bones from the excavated graves. The sandy path took me away from the stupa towards a series of sign boards marking where buildings stood during the genocide. Each sign had a story and only added to the magnitude of the situation.

The entrance to the killing fields and mass grave site was marked by a boundary of trees and we followed the path through a small gap.

Despite the number of tourists walking around, this area was eerily quiet. Patches of sunken earth marked where excavations had taken place, reminding me of the battlefields of the first world war. Much of the field still held grave sites and were marked with wooden huts to protect them. On the wooden posts marking the grave boundaries, visitors had left coloured cotton bracelets as a sign of respect and memorial. Other sites had concrete boundaries. Narrow paths worn in the grass wound their way past the graves. At each excavation site, black and white photographs showed the evidence of the work that had taken place. In several places there were chains cordoning off certain areas. This was where scraps of bone, teeth and clothing were rising to the surface. The memorial caretakers carefully monitored the fields for such occurrences and then collected them to be kept safe in the large glass cases. In one such case, we saw evidence of bindings used to secure the victims and material used as blindfolds. Every piece of evidence was collected so those victims could be remembered and the atrocities never forgotten.

One of the mass graves held victims of the Khmer rouge- defectors who were decapitated.

Towards the back of the field was a man-made lake. It also held four submerged mass graves that the authorities had left. There were seats overlooking the water and we took a few minutes to sit down and reflect upon what we had learnt and seen so far. Under any other circumstances, this would have been a peaceful lake-side spot.

The tour took us full circle to the stupa and this time we spent a little longer  appreciating it as a memorial. The doors were locked so we walked around the stupa several times trying to comprehend what we were seeing. Each layer of the towering glass case held bones, weapons or fragments of clothing. Each skull had been subject to forensic testing and coloured dots marked out an array of information: whether the skull was male, female, their age range and the type of fatal wound received. I was taken aback by the depth of analysis and it took four circles of the stupa before I stopped reading the signs and started to notice the skulls and bones for what they were.

It’s not difficult to understand why the Cambodians have documented this genocide in such detail. The dead are to be remembered and the living should never have to experience such an act again.

With a greater understanding of the genocide and heavier hearts, we walked in silence back to our waiting tuk-tuk driver.

Tubing in Vang Vieng

Before reaching Laos, let alone Vang Vieng, we had heard about tubing. It was pitched to us as an absolute must-do activity. In fact, if some reviews and guides are to be believed it’s the only thing to do in Vang Vieng. After some controversy surrounding drunken accidents, tubing in it’s original form has all but disappeared with rumours of it having been disbanded completely . It’s only been replaced with a cleaned-up version. After hearing all of this though,I still didn’t really know what tubing was. The only way to find out, I guess, was to try it.

Upon reaching Vang Vieng we saw bedraggled looking tourists, arms covered in cotton bracelets and marker pen, slopping their way up the main street come dusk. In the morning they were replaced by happier, enthusiastic, much drier looking individuals. What on earth had happened to them?

On our chosen day, Hugh and I donned our outfits of choice – swim shorts and bikini (I’ll let you decide who wore what) and headed off to the tubing office. The sign at the entrance informed us that tubing during dry season would take about two hours.  At the first desk we signed a waiver saying we would behave (or else) and at the second desk we paid our deposit. Then our waiver number was drawn on our hand in indelible ink (presumably so they could identify us if anything bad happened) and the waiting group were ushered into a tuk-tuk which whisked us away (top speed 30 miles an hour) to a spot three kilometres upstream.

As we unloaded, the driver handed us a tube – the inner tube of a tractor tyre- and drove off. There were eight people on the rickshaw and we stood looking at each other until a voice offered some guidance, “Come and get your free whisky shot over here!” Nestled under the trees, behind a fence, was a makeshift bar; the first of many on our tubing trip. Walking in, we were handed a shot, followed by a cotton bracelet and left to our own devices. Beer pong was happening to our left and Jenga to our right. Hugh and I opted for Jenga. Sitting down, we got chatting to a couple from Manchester. Hugh took his Jenga turn first only to find out there were instructions on the block. I turned around to find Hugh doing push-ups with a straw in his mouth and half full cup of whisky on the floor. We weren’t even on the river yet! Soon after we decided it was time to get going so we slung our rides for the afternoon over our shoulders and headed down to river bank.

River bar Drinking whisky - Hugh style

Getting in to the tube took several attempts. The manoeuvre wasn’t as easy as you might think especially as I was trying not to spill my drink or lose the tube. After several minutes of trying to graciously lower myself into a rubber ring that is moving with the current, I gave up and threw myself at it. I wasn’t exactly seated but at least the tube wasn’t drifting away downstream without me.

Tubing Nicole Tubing Hugh

Not long after we set off, there was a cry from the river bank and two Laos boys were waving a plastic bottle attached to a rope. I waved back and the bottle was thrown to me. Hugh grabbed me, I held on tight to the rope and we were pulled in to our first riverside bar. The disembarking process was a well oiled machine and we were pulled out of tubes and up the rocky bank by a series of people as our tubes were simultaneously thrown up and stacked ready for our return. More free shots and bracelets awaited us at the bar. Sitting down at a bench to dry off in the sun, towering limestone karsts and thick jungle foliage surrounded us, providing a breathtaking and surreal contrast to the very western party scene before us.

Gotta love LaoLao I love Lao

The bar was noisy  with loud pop music, groups of people and entertainment such as sprinkler basketball (see the sprinkler bar from my last post), hula hooping and a dance area. More people arrived and several hours slipped past while we shared travel stories with our original group from the first bar. Having no idea of the time, we all decided to get back on to the river. Getting back in the tube was easier said than done. In our wisdom we decided to skip the next bar and instead load up on drinks here. Reaching the river bank was not a problem – getting in the tube with drinks in both hands was. We provided a lot of entertainment for the Laos boys. It was also about this time I realised my market – bought shorts had ripped quite spectacularly and I was no longer ‘dressed politely’ as the locals say. Luckily for me this wasn’t the worst of wardrobe malfunctions to happen while tubing.

Beautiful Nam Xong Nam Xong view

The river flowed on lazily and we floated along past bars, swimmers, kayakers, fishermen and plenty of tubers. Where the river was shallowest we bumped over rapids and slalomed between rocks that pock-marked the river; paddling and splashing to awkwardly manoeuvre the tube. Other times we followed the meanders, bobbing from left to right.  It was at one of the shallowest points that Hugh floated into a rock and had to stand up to reposition his tube on the river. At the same time a group of kayakers went sailing past and started laughing and smiling. I thought they were just having a good time until I spotted Hugh. His sodden swim shorts had stuck to his legs when he stood up and Hugh was now mooning everyone on the river. Thankfully those free whisky shots had taken the edge off the situation.


It wasn’t long before dusk fell and we were still quite a distance from Vang Vieng. Luckily our flotilla had grown in size and we figured there was safety in numbers. The bars had long since disappeared and we started paddling some more to speed up our travel downstream. Rounding a corner, we saw the lights of Vang Vieng but more to our relief there was a man standing knee deep in the river only a few metres from us. “Tuk tuk to town,” he shouted and there were several happy replies. One by one the driver grabbed hold of our tubes and pulled us to the low river bank. We threw the tubes on the tuk-tuk roof and climbed in.

A view from the bridge

Ten minutes later after tubes had been returned and deposits repaid, Hugh and I made our way back to the guest house. Passing the open-fronted cafes, new arrivals to the town stared at our soggy, ripped clothes and the footprints our drenched sandals left on the pavement. I can only imagine what they were thinking.

Pi Mai – Luang Prabang

Stepping out of our guest house in to the midday sun, we were struck by the humidity. The thermometer already read 36 degrees and we were in need of refreshment. We moved slowly, cautiously across the pavement on to the main road. Today was Pi Mai -Buddhist New Year – which meant a lot of different things to different people: cleansing, purification, new beginnings, a fresh start. But to every Laos person, regardless of age or social background, it meant water fight. Lining both sides of the road were Laos and Falang (foreigner) alike, armed with their proudly procured weapons. These included water guns, buckets, jugs, pressure washers, washing up bowls and hoses to name but a few. Nobody was safe today and little did we know that the Laos people had a few other surprises up their already soggy sleeves.

Attitude - Luang Prabang Party truck - Luang Prabang

To reach the Mekong river and our chosen cafe we ducked behind pick-up trucks. Luckily for us this is the vehicle of choice for many Laos people (If we had been in India, the Suzuki Altos wouldn’t have provided much cover). We then headed for Dara market. The plan was to move stealthily through the indoor market and try to reach the main market street untouched. We made it through and paused for a breather to assess our next moves.

Standing on the raised corner behind us was a little Laos girl armed with a super-soaker. We waited on the pavement plotting our route. The little girl didn’t register our arrival; water gun poised and her eyes fixed steadily on a target on the opposite pavement. Confidently, we strode forward only to be soaked from behind by the grinning, little girl making the most of her vantage point. Pi Mai had begun. Dodging attacks from left and right, we arrived at the main intersection relatively unscathed until another young girl appeared with a bucket and emptied it over my head with a giggle.

Trouble - Luang Prabang Trouble in action - Luang Prabang

Relaxing by the Mekong we ate fried rice and regrouped. Clint arrived and he planned to go with Hugh over the river and watch a stupa being built on the river bank. My plan was to stay on this side of the river and soak up the atmosphere. We parted ways and I wouldn’t see Hugh again for another three hours.

I headed left out of the cafe on to the road and this time there were no pick-up trucks or covered markets to provide shelter. Just kerb to kerb soaking and music playing so loud it felt as though the ground was shaking. The charcoal smell of grilled vegetables and barbecued chicken filled the air. The whole city was out to celebrate. Many of the Laos people were apologetic when tipping bowls of water over me but were safe in the knowledge they had cleansed another person ready for the year ahead whilst the children’s actions were ruthless; clearly their strategies had been honed from previous years. Cars and flat bed trucks filled the road, crawling along slowly; the suspension being tested by a boot full of people bouncing up and down in time to several different beats.

Party truck - Luang Prabang Pink Hair - Luang Prabang

Further along the river bank the cars thinned out revealing a shimmering road and a view filled with droplets of water. Taking in all the sights, I dropped my guard for a second and missed a boy sneaking up on my right. He jumped in front of me and slapped two floury hands on my face. “Sok dee Pi Mai!” He shouted and ran off to find his next victim. Further along the road I was greeted with sprays of coloured water and when I stopped to get my bearings I saw a riverside bar that wasn’t taking any chances that people would stay dry. It has a makeshift sprinkler system rigged up – drinkers and dancers alike were revelling in the cooling spray. The ultimate refreshment.

Sprinkler party - Luang Prabang

I went to turn right and witnessed a street-wide water fight. Left and right kerbs were hurling water at each other. I wasn’t brave enough to run the gauntlet. Instead I continued on to find a stage erected outside a house. On it were two men dressed in traditional female outfits performing a traditional looking dance in a slightly comedic way. One child took full advantage of his height and position at the corner of the stage and each time one of the men got close enough to him, his ankles were thoroughly sprayed from a water gun. I watched this charade for about ten minutes and walked on, taking the next right back on to the market street.

Luang Prabang - Pi Mai Celebrations

Carnage still ensued despite several hours having elapsed since Hugh and I had initially passed by. Water fighters, rainbow coloured from the grease paint ambushes, were beginning to look slightly weary. Headed back towards the guest house, I bumped into a damp and floury looking Hugh. We both decided a pot of tea was needed before we could head back for showers . We faced the grid lock of pick-ups and flat beds on the enforced one way system and ran for it. Surprisingly we made it to the safety of the tea shop relatively un-soaked (well, anymore than we were already) and chose a vantage point to watch over the proceedings.

You've been tango'd - Luang Prabang Had enough - Luang Prababng

The traffic had started to move slowly down the road and we saw renewed vigour in the eyes of those who had been forced to stop next to a young boy with a pressure washer. Water flinging resumed and we saw one girl on the back of a pick-up who embodied exactly how we felt – she had climbed inside a dust bin (presumably once full of water) and pulled the lid over her head. Our sentiments exactly. After five days of random water fights and guerilla style water bomb attacks we were tired, damp and surprisingly chilly. T-shirt wringing was futile, no amount of tea was warming us up and the flour/water mixture had solidified on our arms and face. We called it quits and slunk back to our room for hot showers.

Battle's end - Luang Prabang

Laos definitely won this round of Pi Mai and I would gladly come back for a rematch.