Day 20 1060 days to go. Rest Day Vientiane – It’s 2.18pm Tuesday 20/12/2011 Vientiane and I’m sitting at Pha That Luang the most important national monument in Laos a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Laos sovereignty. Legend has it the original that on this site housed a piece of Buddhas breastbone. It’s an impressive building golden against the blue sky and not too many tourists yay. I have eclipse soundtrack playing coffee in my thermos and Rube and I are hanging out in the shade looking directly at the monument-nice!!!!! Couldn’t resist taking the chance to have a chat. I’m loving Vientiane it’s a spread out city right on the Mekong so it’s good to have Rube to get around plus she likes playing in the crazy traffic without pulling a load cheeky girl. After cleaning up yesterday and getting 2kg of filthy washing done it was just before sunset and we headed out to the boardwalk area which runs along the riverfront. What an alive part of the city with locals hanging out, picnicking, playing on the sand flats, skating/cycling, jogging, doing huge aerobic sessions, and generally enjoying the space on whatever way is fun. Laos people like having fun above all and it’s so apparent they show little reserve when doing their thing just towards outsiders initially but it’s not hard to break through to those beautiful smiles. My camera remains my secret weapon of sorts. My two favorite photos today were taken this morning at the talat Sao or morning market that goes all day lol. The markets are the most boggling wack on the sensors smells of slaughter in action fish chicken unknown meats, frogs, sea snakes, eels. Then there ware steaks and sausages of whatever unimmaginable grilling and the smell just an explosion in the dark and narrow maize of stalls. I got so lost and loved every moment. It seemed the deeper you got into the markets the more hard core it got – The place just draws you in fascinated fixated in the bazar. The amount of gasps I has at animals in mid slaughter it was just raw and quite incredible to see their local markets in action ready or not. Two ladies have just sat next to me selling small bamboo cages of sparrows that I think are for offerings to appease the gods animist buddhism 101. Anyway back to my two favourite photos one was of this old lady squatted behind the small round grill cooking skewered assorted meets a speck amongst the other action but she had the most incredible face. She shied from having her photo taken but then loved we were going to both be on the photo and laughed and laughed at herself and/or me in the monitor it was really awesome this random aged Laos lady touched my heart. The next was this lady selling just cucumbers and cabbages from a wheelbarrow. Again with so much happenings and assorted produce how could she make any money. I had to buy something from her and anyway I needed a kilo of cucumbers to soothe a sore throat. I have the sorest of throats I think from inhaling so much dust over the last days. When I picked up my laundry thiis morning the lady had her mask on which most locals wear here to shield them from the dust and smog in the air during the dry season particularly. I gestured where to buy one and she said market. I stumbled across this lady selling masks of sorts and bought myself one so again please excuse the bandit look in some photos but it’s really giving some relief while I get about today. So anyway the cucumber lady pulled the biggest of smiles behind her mask and at she has 3000 lip in her pocket that’s like 45cents it’s just crazy Loas money is worth so little. The first section of the markets had the freshly baked baguettes which I bought two for 8000 kip one I devoured straight away whilst walking around the other for a picnic this evening. I loved watching locals picnic by the riverfront last night so that’s me tonight nice. I heard back from Hanna and the kids that they’ll be arriving 5pm this afternoon. I found the place where they’re staying and left a note that I’ll be picnicking or blogging at the internet cafe later on if they want to catch up so well see. Last night was heaps of fun for dinner with Linn from Sweden, Josh from New Zealand, and Lucy May I think from Dorset UK. I’m so sorry I’m hopeless with names anyway heaps of fun and chats until late they were fun and easy company and I wish them all safe and amazing adventures for the rest of their travels. That’s been pretty much it nice nice nice. I have a skype date withy partner in the morning the best way to start the day. We’re trying to figure where and how we can meet up prior to Sept12 which is far too far away and not quiche at all.
It’s 5.20pm and just when I was contemplating heading back towards the river front the young Loas man came and introduced himself and I spent over an hour chatting with him it was so interesting and good to here a local perspective on some things. Also this young lad who’s aunty was one of the ladies selling caged sparrows joined the conversation in between being a Laos B-boy and rapping his little self doing a dam fine job of it too I might add. A Contiki type tour group stopped for a photo and next minute he’s doing a rap-off with a couple of the guys from the group he loved loved loved it and reckons he won handstand down. The young man’s name is Vilagon and he is currently an tutor for a local English school. He studied business and obtained a diploma which isn’t a high enough qualification to apply for a job but his plan is to go to Vietnam and approach a company to work freelance on commission and export goods from Vietnam back to Loas. He said that Thailand is the major importer into Laos. His idea is to create more options for Laos people for cheaper goods and hopes to import nutritional milk products for infants and pregnant woman in particular. Such an interesting man. 25 years old. He explained Laos people who majoritively have very little maintain a positive spirit without worry. He explained its a psyche throughout the country. The birds in the cages are sold for people who start to feel worry and they buy the birds to release them reminding themselves of what counts. How beautiful. He said if he is successful he will have a family and be able to provide for them. His family come from Paksan and are rice farmers. The young lad Thongdee is 14 years old he read my travel guide, road Ruby, but mostly rapped and raved about being a B-Boy with the moves like Michael Jackson. He is in his last year of middle school and starts high school next year for another 3 years then onto university for 5 years if he wants a degree. I’m now sitting on the riverfront about to have dinner and have really enjoyed my stay in Vientiane and I’m not even joking!!!!! Talk soon x ps a bit of south east Asia trivia there are apparently 7million people in Loas and 70 million in Vietnam x pps didn’t end up meeting with Hanna and the kids but again I wish them an awesome trip and believe they arrive home with heaps of amazing stories Christmas Eve. Happy Christmas for their families I’m sure. Heading tomorrow towards Paksan which will take about 2 days then onto Tham Kong Lo cave, Tha Khaek for Xmas Eve and Si Phan Don for new year – good plan but always one safe and healthy adventurous day at a time. Talk soon x