Three weeks back in Laos and things are chugging right along. We’re 90% moved into our new house, but for a motley assortment of odds and ends. We’re constantly discovering new local watering holes and eateries are on our evening walks, Noe’s back at nursery school (this time full time — and loving it, though incredibly exhausted at the end of the week), and Riley, well, Riley’s doing what Riley does.
…and Big Bro is doing what big brothers do.
We’re enjoying being reintroduced to our adoptive home since 2016, and all the quirks and eccentricities always in store.
Like this lone horse strolling down the side of the national highway.
For the past two years, I’ve managed without a desk. When we moved into the new house, I felt that enough was enough and began the search for something to do the job. I didn’t want something cheap, unsightly, and expensive, so that narrowed my options. Fortunately, a friend tipped us off to a place just outside of town that makes custom furniture for reasonable prices. And when I say just outside of town, I mean 30 minutes north on the national highway. We loaded up the pickup, followed the track to the GPS pin, and found ourselves on a dusty a deserted stretch of road. A quick text to our friend sorted things out and we found ourselves a couple miles down a dirt road amongst rice paddies and not much else. It always amazes me here how quickly things turn rural.
Then, sure enough, there it was: Beer and Ice Furniture!
The guys there are really friendly, and the furniture is high quality stuff, particularly if you find yourself needing something to put your beer and ice on. Cause, let’s be honest, that is my primary reason for wanting a desk.
They do custom furniture if you want to go that route, but we found a pre-made table and shelf that suited our purposes just fine. The shelf fit in the back of the truck, but the table did not. Oops. No worries, they deliver for free (of course). 4pm that day, they were at our house with the table, and a short while later, I was enjoying my beer (and ice, but in my water glass — I know, how un-Lao of me) on my new desk.
Which brings me to Tucky wonton noodle soup.
Now that we have that covered, on to brunch!
Our first visit back to Cafe Vanille. Visiting French eateries always bring out the little Frenchie in Noe.
Riley thinks it’s all hilarious.
In Riley news, as of mid-January, we’re trying out a highly recommended nanny/sitter to watch Riley a couple mornings per week. Noe was five months old when we even considered leaving him with someone. In 2016, however, we knew far fewer people in Vientiane, had few good leads, and Noe being our first, were a bit more apprehensive. This time around, it’s different, and so far, we love Kham, who came highly recommended from a good friend.
In other developments, a new traffic light has been installed at the corner of Dongpayna and Sapangmore.
When a city of half a million people only has half a dozen traffic lights, you can imagine it might be big news when a new one goes in. Out of all the intersections in town that desperately needed a traffic light, it went in here. A hard to negotiate cross-street, but not one of the more desperate for regulation. Heck, I hardly saw traffic police directing traffic here during rush hour. I’d be curious what led to implementing this high tech gadget here. As with most things in Vientiane, I’m sure there’s an interesting story. Still, it’s pretty freakin’ cool to be able to cross at a regulated intersection. Ah, the little things we get excited about here.
Our first visit back to the Mekong Zone at sunset did not disappoint.
I’m happy to report that Naga Boat seems to be open year-round now, even if it’s floating on water only a few months. Whoever said a boat needed to actually be in water to be fun? After the fourth or fifth shot of Lao-Lao, it doesn’t matter much either way, I’d imagine.
Our destination for the evening was the venerable shack-like Highland Bar, sporting televised sports matches, the ever-present collection of middle-aged English-speaking white dudes estranged from any number of Commonwealth countries, and some of the best sunset views in the city. When we were here last summer, we were shocked to see the place was up for sale. We were pleasantly surprised to return six months later to find the for sale sign down and the place still operating as usual. So…you might imagine our shock, yet again, to see this post on social media just days later:
It’s here yesterday, gone today in Vientiane.
On a much happier note, I finally got my hammock up!
As you can see, Noe approves.
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You may (or may not) remember me talking about the new (old) fleet of buses Vientiane recently acquired from Japan with the plan of starting regular bus service along two major routes in town. That was about a year ago, but it looks like it’s now an actual thing! Pretty legit looking too, with “bus stops” and a route map! If this survives, it will be a huge improvement over the existing (er…non-existent) public transit system. We’ll report back later.
Monkeying around on his “big bed.”
I’ve stopped writing about coffee shops because, well, they just aren’t as interesting if you aren’t here in Vientiane (even if some of them are really interesting), and they keep popping up faster than I can keep up. I could easily have an entire blog devoted to new Vientiane coffee shops (but I’m not going to — one blog is more than enough). This coffee shop, however, demands a special mention. Lori dragged me out to Dough & Co. one morning because she had a lunch meeting there and I was catching a ride into town. The building is made entirely of wood, brick, glass, and custom iron work, and is easily one of the more unique offerings in town now.
It seems that there is fierce competition to outdo each other, stylistically, in Vientiane. Even so, there are few new coffee shops that seem to hit it exactly on the head. The ambience at Dough & Co. is excellent, but quite far from everything. I was a bit disappointed with the food, but being that they just opened warrants another chance.
I am happy to see that they offer highchairs and a little play area for the wee ones. As cool as that is, the best feature of the coffee shop, however, might just be the bathrooms.
Finally, I leave with a sunset view of the Mekong. There is a long pedestrian path that follows the Mekong for about five miles, paved and uninterrupted. Fortunately for us, it begins about a half mile from our new house.
With a path like this and sunsets like that, it was all too hard for me resist taking up running again. Right now with the boys, I’m able to swing 2-3 evenings a week, which I’m happy with for the moment. However often, it sure beats running around the creepy Chinese ghost town near our old house. Vientiane might not have the buzz and amenities of a city like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, but it’s little things like these that make living in Vientiane often hard to beat.