It’s been nice being back in town for the last week of November. It’s full-on dry season now, and we’re trying our best to take advantage of the cooler, more predictable weather. It still gets pretty hot at midday (mid to upper 80s) but not nearly as humid as it was just a few weeks ago. The evenings have consistently been nice since we moved here in mid-September, but are just about perfect these days. The only thing missing is a beach! But in a landlocked country, I’ll take sunset views of the Mekong any day.
We celebrated Noe’s first American Thanksgiving at our favorite Korean BBQ joint down the street — The Koki. I guess Korean food on Thanksgiving is becoming something of a tradition with us, if twice now makes it a tradition. I wouldn’t have any problem eating Korean BBQ for every holiday meal, but I think some of our friends and family might find that borderline offensive, if not blasphemous.
We were fortunate this year to spend our Turkey Day with an American friend who is one of Lori’s work colleagues at HI — the only other American, in fact.
The next day, we joined Lori’s colleagues and Handicap International project partners on the banks of the Mekong to mark 20 years of Handicap International’s work in Laos. I always hesitate to use the word “celebrate,” given that the continued presence of an international organization generally means the continued presence of a particular social challenge (or multiple) that has not has not yet overcome. Now, if we’re celebrating 20 years of HI’s superb work in addressing those ongoing challenges, I think that’s saying something. And that’s what we’re essentially celebrating here tonight, no matter how you say it.
And what better way to celebrate than with breakdancing.
Saturday morning, we got to Skype with my parents and sister’s family together under one roof. It was as if they were sitting right in our living room…until the connection dropped. Then, they seemingly ceased to exist. Try explaining that one to a five month old.
That evening, we decided to make a trip into Chanthabouly (downtown district) for a sundowner atop one of Vientiane’s highest building. There was just one small catch…our sunset drink spot didn’t open for service until 5:30. Nothing else in the neighborhood apparently did either.
We managed to find a place that would serve us a cold beverage while we waited for Ray’s Capital Grill to open. Apparently, we enjoyed ourselves a bit too much and missed sunset altogether.
What actually happened was that Noe was being a big ol’ ball of fuss, and we weren’t ready to subject the good patrons of that fine establishment to his malcontentedness. So, we did 15-20 laps around the block, playing into his diva-like insistence on being the center of attention, until he eventually drifted off to sleep, transforming from a scary little banshee-child to a cute little bag of sleeping baby hanging off of Lori’s shoulders. Sweet. Time to go party.
People come to Ray’s for the view, but they stay for the food and drinks, which are some of the best around for the price here in Vientiane. Lori and I had a lovely little “date” evening, with our ginormous supreme nachos plate (we split it and still had leftovers) and the luxury of grown-up conversation.
Easy Bar. Does it get more awesome than that?
As it frequently happens when we’re out of town a lot, we had so much fun downtown, we decided to return the next evening. ..and Monday night too. Actually, it worked out that we had business downtown anyway, but it’s always nice to have an excuse to try something new.
We had every intention of trying some place new on Sunday night, but the draw of Belgian beer was too overpowering. You can tell Noe is just as excited as I am to be back at Chokdee.
After Noe’s checkup and meeting his new pediatrician (he passed with flying colors), we took a sunset stroll along the Vientiane promenade…which is a pothole-infested dirt road. Actually, there’s quite a nice promenade closer to the center of town, but we were trying out some place new — Moon the Night. The evening was just too pleasant to pass up, so we decided to go for a stroll and grab a drink along the water before hand.
Trying a new beer — Namkhong Special. Tastes a lot like Namkhong regular, but for twice the price. Yay!
And here it is, in all it’s glory…Moon. The. Night.
The place is like a freakin’ arena. There’s enough seating here to house the entire country of Bhutan, and then some. Just a crazy place. And oh boy, what a menu! Well, it would have been, if the chef was in tonight, but he didn’t bother showing up to work. So we get the local menu tonight. Pork fried rice it is! With a side of impromptu childcare, of course. Where you taking my baby! Aw, who cares. Pass the rice!
Laotians definitely get the prize for drinking the most beer…all at once. Yes, that is a fire-hydrant-sized beer dispenser, to share of course…
Shifting gears a bit, Lori found a new Lao dish she loves. Bo Bun. Delicious. And our dearest neighborhood local eatery makes it. Yay!
Lastly, a beautiful late autumn sunrise as Lori’s headed off to work.
And that about does it for our first November living in Vientiane!