In the Naga's Wake: The First Man to Navigate the Mekong, from Tibet to the South China Sea
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decided to stay with the car as, after dropping the Frenchmen off, it was supposed to be brought back up to Zato to resume the expedition. In taking the car they also inadvertently took most of my food supplies and expedition equipment, which I had left in the car thinking it would return in four days as promised. On the day Naga's Wake pages 29/8/06 5:16 PM Page 64 64 In the NAGA’S WAKE I heard about Stan and Nico quitting, Brian Eustis, a friend I had worked with on another
yak butter tea I fell asleep on the family couch watching the kids of the house reading stories to one another from a small comic book. By ten the next morning, still unable to phone Brian, I decided to push on alone. I came to a section referred to as ‘moon gorge’. The steep-sided valleys in the area were home to a surprising quantity of prickly pear cacti that seemed to be the only plant capable of surviving the desertlike environment. I was familiar with the plant from Australia and checked
tonnes of rocks into the water on river left. We knew that we had chosen the ‘right’ side. About five hundred metres up the gorge wall on river left a large excavator nudged boulders the size of twelve-metre shipping containers into the river. They tumbled, half rolling, half airborne, down the near vertical cliff, crashing into the river below and sending water dozens of metres into the air. It was an awesome sight. As we passed, groups of workers downed their tools to watch a couple of crazy
and I were putting together. Another blow for the Kiwis came when they were forced to spend three full weeks in Jinghong waiting to get their imported kayaks out of customs, followed by sorting out the permits to cross by kayak into Laos. Customs officials were determined to charge them full import tax rates, which amounted to thousands of dollars for their equipment even though they planned to only paddle the kayaks from Jinghong to the Lao border, about two to three days, and then leave China.
a foreigner for the first time in his life and barraged me with questions about my own country and lifestyle. ‘How many people in your family? What are you doing here? Do foreigners eat rice? How cold is it in the foreign countries?’ As we talked, Aon’s wife Noy pulled out some sticky rice and fish from her bag and without a thought offered it to me as well as her husband and child. I thanked her but declined. The natural generosity of rural Lao people, so many of whom live well below the poverty