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ASIA & CHINA - THE "KEEP ON SMILING" TOUR

Four Thousand Islands Postcard

FOUR THOUSAND ISLANDS

"THE LITTLE LAWN MOWER MOTOR ENGINE THAT COULD"

I was continuing with the Mekong River theme, deciding to travel down to the bottom of Laos where I could find the intricately named Four Thousand Islands. Four Thousand Islands - the Mekong River fanning out, creating a network of river channels, described as a marvel of nature.

I would find out for myself.

A skinny, single file boat, powered by a lawn mower motor, picked up the five tourists from outside their sleepy, isolated accommodation. Early morning, no life had risen in their souls, they were willing to be led. The dirt brown water, silt from the highlands, deposited in the run off from fertile to infertile, once this generation was finished there would be no more. It had been decided and time would run its course.

Four Thousand Islands

We were all tired, now bored.

The guide could speak no English to inform us of our fate.

The islands, they did not exist. They had been over-run by the drowning and the desperate and eventually had faded below the surface.

No sanctuary, no hope.

We were going to create our own gene therapy, the four dark skinned female tourists and me.

But they were not even speaking; too much in tune with the guide who was leading us to our fate.

Boredom

******

Four Thousand Islands

I had spent a night and a day travelling here. Now I wanted my time back. The lawn mower motor engine was powering its way back upstream against the current. Slowly, so slowly, I had never witnessed anything so determined. It was a case of ‘The Little Lawn Mower Motor Engine That Could.’

I was sitting here in that boat. Willing the engine to fight; not for my own benefit, but fight for all the small engines out there, for its own pride and survival.

This was South-East Asia. If the engine did not provide for its master, there would be an end.

The engine was starting to struggle.

We disembarked from the single file boat and followed the guide to a half-buried railway track and some disused, abandoned, rusty locomotive engine.

This is what happens lawn mower engine!

Four Thousand Islands

You will be abandoned.

You are just so small and weak; not strong like this disused abandoned locomotive engine. An engine born from the French colonial era when the colonists absurdly thought they would build a railway through the South East Asian marshes, prone to yearly flooding.

Are you absurd little lawn mower motor engine?

Then back aboard the long, skinny boat ‘The Little Lawn Mower Motor Engine That Could’ spluttered, then came to life, roaring with determination.

Go, Go little lawn mower motor engine.

And then, three hours later, we arrived; back at our sleepy, isolated accommodation, saved and full of admiration.

Thank You Mr Lawn Mower Motor Engine.