Brendan Gara Photography

Jessie J Earworms

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We spent a few days in Nong Khai in the north of Thailand before crossing into Laos.  Didn’t really know what to expect of the place, which is usually a good thing.  We arrived early in the morning after taking the overnight train from Bangkok, checked into our slightly odd accommodation and went for a tiki tour around.  I say odd, but many people like it.  For me it’s too “knowing”, too easy, too “Thai- lite”, and too many mosquitos, not to mention netbooks and smart phones.  Nong Khai is a nice place to ride a bike around though.  There’s a very strange sculpture park and it has a Tesco.

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We tried to get on an evening cruise down the river to the friendship bridge (where we would cross over to Laos) but there weren’t enough people wanting to go, so we settled for a few drinks whilst the sun set.  About an hour later a frenchman came down to the boat with his Thai beau and offered to charter the boat for a cruise, so we hopped aboard with a decent amount of booze to see us through the hour long soiree down the river.

The boat was big: up at the bow, international love, back by the stern two bug bitten cynics and amidships a lone japanese woman all struggling to hear anything due to the aural onslaught of Jessie J’s “price tag” at ear- bleeding level.

“Everybody look to their left”- hundreds of bright, garishly coloured lights of Thailand, traffic, street lights glowing in the dark.

“Everybody to their right”- one or two white lights from small shacks on the Lao shoreline.

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The next night we were shaken from our weird- accommodation induced daze (why do I keep thinking about Colonel Kurtz and no matter how loud I turn the ipod up all I hear is it’s not about the money, the money, the damn money) by loud thai music coming from nearby.  Grabbing cameras and film we walked along the river bank to find a bunch of kids practicing for their school dance festival.  These kids are really good, so we sit down and just hang around for a while.  Nobody seems to mind me taking pictures, but it’s difficult- there’s almost no light and I don’t want to piss them off by using flash.  Tri-X pushed all the way to ISO 6400, the Fuji pushed all the way there too.

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The kids get chatty and we have a laugh for an hour or so, then head back to the camp – I must send them some pictures soon.

The next day Laos and those white lights.

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