Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Leeches in Laos

The roosters woke us up at dawn, but Kat and I laid in bed for a little while longer, not wanting to wake the guys sleeping in the main room. eventually we decided to get up once it was a little light out, and suddenly Kat looks down at her chest and sees that she is covered in big blood stains. she holds up her hands and sees one is covered in blood and still bleeding. Thank goodness the blood only got on Kat's clothes (and white jacket!) and not our hosts' bedding. that would have been a nightmare. Kat reported that her hand didn't hurt at all and remembered feeling "something gooey" on her hand in the middle of the night (after we had our midnight wee) and flicking it off. Leeches! well we couldn't sleep after that, so we got our flashlights out (it was just barely light in the room) and searched the bed. the leech was on the mosquito net just over where my face had been! lucky me we woke up before it got hungry again. We patched Kat up and everyone had a big laugh about Kat getting a leech in bed. Then we had a yummy breakfast, sampled a little "medicinal" lao-lao (just a sip, it was 7 am!) and went for a walk around the village with Udon. It had rained during the night and everything was wet and muddy. At one point Kat realized she had another leech on her foot and flung it off in time. Then we all realized we had leeches on our feet/legs and all got them off in time before they attached (except Udon, who had no leeches, and told us to keep moving for goodness sake, then we crazy falang wouldn't keep getting leeches). When we got back Isaac took off his hiking shoes and realized a leech had attached to his foot. He removed it and it bled like crazy, but luckily we had band aids. Then Fredrick found a leech on his leg, already attached unfortunately. a little while later Kat found a leech in between her toes, that had gone unnoticed for quiet awhile. In the end, I was the only one who didn't get a leech attached to me! And everyone thought I would be the first, because I am so accident prone. I always say: being accident prone makes me more cautious. Hah.

However, I did get an innocent enough looking bite on my chest the day before that days later got a little infected and started to look really nasty and you could see 2 huge fang marks half centimeter apart where a rather large spider must have bitten me, so what are you going to do, you can't win them all.

We continued back to Pakse at a leisurely pace after saying goodbye, good luck, and thank you many times over to our hosts and the other villagers. We then went to see some waterfalls, a coffee plantation, a tea plantation, a market where Udon explained the strange fruits and vegetables and encouraged us to buy some outrageously entertaining Lao music videos (which we did, the hip hop being the best that we saw), had another yummy lunch where Udon ordered off the menu venison for us, since by that time he learned we did not want falang food but real Lao food.

We stopped by some road side huts where people were making the knives that the farmers cut rice with (Isaac bought one). The metal of the knives comes from truck struts as nothing is wasted in Laos. It was pretty cool and I got some video of them hammering the steel. None of us noticed what all the anvils they were using were made of until Udon nonchalantly pointed it out. They were huge unexploded ordnances from the Vietnam war. They were literally hammering as hard as they could on the base of the inverted bomb again and again. Obviously at some point someone had taken the charge out of them (or "the boom" as Isaac says, since neither of us are bomb experts). This was not some show for the tourists. Every knife making hut we drove past was using huge bombs as their anvils. And that's about all I have to say about that.

We said a very sad goodbye to Fredrick, Udon, and Aot and exchanged email addresses when we got back to Pakse. As luck would have it, we did run into Udon and Aot again after our 4,000 islands trip, and now that we are in Vientiane and completely done with traveling through Pakse, I am a little sad. I won't be able to think of Laos without thinking of our homestay with Udon, Aot, and Fredrick. Next up: Don Khone and 4,000 Islands!


Lisa said...

Yikes! Leeches weird me out, although you make it sound like it wasn't all that bad. Doesn't look good. I guess at least they don't hurt? I wish mosquitoes did that, then I wouldn't mind sharing a bit of my blood quite as much.

Also, I was first cringing at using bombs as anvils, but I was laughing out loud at Isaac saying they had "removed the boom".
Well, thank god for that.

Stephan said...

I'm fascinated that you guys could laugh it off. Had it been me, I'm pretty certain I would have screamed. Quietly, mostly to myself, but quietly, inside my head.

Me and leeches aren't what I'd call buddies.

zerocrossing said...

I think if I were on this trip from that night on I would have salted myself up each day to basically take on the appearance of a NYC Pretzel.

Virginia said...

Reading your blog about the leeches and spiders give me goosebumps! Luckily you guys have a good sense of humor. I hope you have all of your American medicine and First Aid kit! What an experience!

Isaac said...

Lisa - I just wish the mosquitoes didn't carry life-threatening crap in the process!!!

Stephan - I can almost hear your cries from here :D

Mark - Somehow I don't doubt your pretzel antics coming to fruition

Virginia - Luckily we do have our American first-aid kit and it has come in Very handy :)

jesscera said...

OMG, I would be utterly disgusted if I found a leech on me...although, I have heard that they inject their own anesthetic so that the host can't feel them sucking out their blood! Poor kitty...poor Isaac...and Kerry, I think that was a vampire, not a spider bite :)