Friday, December 19, 2008

White on Rice

Day 283
I was up early and went down for a free breakfast after packing. I had hoped to catch a minibus up the hill to my new hotel, but none even came by. This was a bit weird, usually I have more than I can handle at once. I ended up huffing and puffing my way up it. Once up top I quickly checked in and dropped off my things. The place was only US $4.50 a night, much more affordable!

I was a few minutes late to meet Eddy, but he didn't seem to mind. He had a helmet for me as planned. I was nervous, but also a bit excited. Motorbikes are the main mode of transportation here. I have seen people carry huge loads on the and sometimes families of five will squeeze onto one. Most people don't even bother to wear helmets. I have met several people and have a Bootsnall friend who have been seriously injured when trying to drive motorbikes on their own. I knew that I could never do that, so hiring someone who could was the next best thing.

The first place that Eddy took me to was a modern long house that functions as a library. The view was fabulous but I really wanted out of town. Next up were some rice patties. Lots and lots of rice patties. They were quite beautiful. I think that the foggy day added to the mystique. Luckily the fog lifted enough for us to see down into a valley of more rice fields. It was also raining a bit at this point and we had to pull over to stay dry.

When the sun came out a bit we were back on the road and people began to come out to work in the fields. Some very friendly ladies let me take a picture of them and then asked if I would like to help a bit. I might have, just to say that I had, but I was still a bit shaky on my left foot and didn't want to get myself all muddy so early in the day. There were also some cute ducks that kept hiding in the rice stalks as soon as I pulled out my camera.

Our next stop was a coffee mill. There was a woman pounding away, but didn't feel comfortable taking a picture. I contented myself with a 100 year old waterwheel. Lunch was next on the list and we stopped at a locals only roadside stand. We ordered a ton of food and I tried almost everything besides the eel. I eat eel in sushi form, but these ones still had their eyes and teeth, eww! The food was really fabulous and cost lest than three dollars for the two of us so I treated, Eddy seemed surprised.

After lunch we stopped at a small town that had some ancient Sanskrit stones. They were right in the middle of a bunch of houses and there were chickens wandering around. It was a bit weird. We followed this with some traditional and highly carved long houses. The queens house was the best. Several women out front tried to sell me some really prickly looking fruits, I declined on the basis that I didn't know what it was or how to eat it. Eddy told me that as recently as his generation (he was just a couple of years older than me) boys would move at the age of 10 into the mosque because there wasn't enough space at home for the many children that everyone had. Now this has mostly changed.

We pulled over at a few more scenic areas before arriving at a lake. We spent some time relaxing (motorbikes hurt just as much as regular bikes after a while). There was a big sign on a tree and I asked what it said. Apparently teenagers used to come here to make out, this irritated the neighbors and the sign asked people to behave respectively.

I was getting pretty tired at this point and there was still one more stop, a weaving village. I could have done with out this, but I think Eddy probably got a commission if I bought anything. For the third or fourth time of the day we ran into a Malaysian tour group. I guess I was on the tourist trail even when I tried to be off of it!

The day had been fabulous and riding the motorbike was thrilling. Eddy was a wonderful guide. It really helped that as he had grown up in the area he knew a lot of people, this allowed me to get ph otos that not everyone gets. The kids were also pretty cute. They were constantly saying hello and asking my name. When I would ask for theirs in return they would giggle and blush. Most of them would run off but continue peaking at me from behind a corner.

I was really quite sore though when I got back. After picking up my laundry I went for some dinner. I tried to update my blog for a while but was foiled by slow internet. Eventually I just went back to my hotel and fell asleep.

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