Mekong Trails

From the north of Thailand to the Mekong river, spiritual Luang Prabang, Pakse, Paksong and the stunning archaeological ruins of Siem Reap
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Islands in the stream

Radu is too much of a gentleman to ask why we spend more time off his boat than on it.   He is a bit sus that our enthusiasm for the wastery parts of the trip may be tempered by our desire to get off into the hills as soon as the gangplank hits the quay.. I don’t blame him.   The Albatross is a fine boat and IMG_8007both he and Adrianna are fine hosts and excellent sailors.   However our tales of daring do in the hills just dont seem to be cutting his mustard. This is particularly so since they ‘outed’ us cafe-ing it up on Kythnos when our declared intention had been a 10km walk. Now he greets us with a wry smile if we dont turn up at the gangplank footsore, bramble scratched, exhausted and sunburnt.

Over the course of the week we are heading for the Islands of Kythnos, Serifos, Sithnos, Milos, Foligandros and Ios. A significant part of the Greek economy must be dependent on these islands. I’m deeply worried that this is a lost opportunity because the next 5 islands on our route all end in ‘os’. This means that I’ll be keeping a lonley vigil outside the quayside cafes until some bloke sends his missus along to open up around 10am.   Rental car outfits are the exception. You only have to rattle the door of a seemingly abandoned rental car agency and a woman will appear out of nowhere and rent you a car. The same hard working lass will be there regardless of what time you return it but dont think for a moment that your credit card will be legal tender.

Greece likes its cash economy far too much for the comfort of its EU creditors.   In my uninformed pre trip euphoria I thought to load quite many Euros onto my ‘one smart card’. How dumb was that in an economy where hoteliers whisper cash deals that would make gag. I was so incensed about this that I started insisting on receipts from restaraunts and hotels. Care to guess who went hungry and cold as a result of that rush of blood to the head. Not only that but I had to suffer the scorn of my travelling companions for attempting to upset the rythym of the Cyclades informal economy. The gentleman curator at a local museum summed up the issue for us. When the EU gave them all that money a decade ago who ever thought that they would want it back!

IMG_7503Usually we have been on the watery bits for 3-5 hrs per day. Mostly the passages have been calm with just the occasional hour or two of terror. Wind has a funny affect on water. It piles the sea up and behaves rudely by pushing the boat about and trying to upend it. All this is great fun for the sailors in our party but not amusing for the landlubbers.   In spite of this we have mysteriously acquired some thing called ‘sea legs’ and are mostly taking all this in our stride.   The island sleepovers have been idylic and our pattern of PM arrival, stroll to the rental car agency, excursion to the interior for a 2-3 hour trek before dinner at some cozy taverna has worked out perfectly for our jolly party of Jack and Jill ‘Tars’. It has been good to get all this walking nonsense out of the way so that we can behave in a totally hedonistic way at our next stop over on Thira, also known as Santorini. I’m in great anticipation about this and not only becase of the islands gender. The explosion of Thira in archacic times radically changed Mediterranean civilization and created one of the most scenic volcanic landscapes in the world.

Make sure to keep a look out for our next instalment!

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