Friday morning at the French Clinic. Nope, Lori’s not trying out new DME (Durable Medical Equipment) for work. While running down a very good road at sunrise, her heel landed on an errant rock and she sprained her ankle. She worked from home for the rest of the day and was up and slowly walking around by Monday, but still a bummer, of course. She asked for some rental crutches and got this stylish pair.
The joys (i.e. long and arduous process) of weaning a baby. Nom Nom Nom, Noe. Mmm, Noe. Good job, Noe! So yummy! (I think you get the picture).
In other news, our mango tree in the front yard is starting to produce some pretty big mangos. Very exciting, but looks like I have an ant issue to address very soon.
But the biggest news in town this week is the opening of Texas Chicken (Church’s Chicken rebranded for their global market). The launch of a relatively obscure fast-food chain in a major city generally doesn’t generate a great deal of buzz. But this is Laos — a country that until very recently had ZERO fast-food chains, until Dairy Queen came into town. That’s right, NO Micky D’s, NO KFC, and certainly NO Starbucks. For whatever reason, it seems I’m destined to live in foreign countries with no major fast-food chains (e.g. Mozambique and Belize). To be honest, it’s refreshing to not have American fast-food culture breathing down your neck, and not having many international chains seems to encourage local business, fresher food, and the propagation of local cuisine. Yet, when Texas Chicken came to town, Lori and I were curious. All I can say is that they’re obviously genetically modified (i.e. HUMONGOUS, extremely meaty, and most certainly not from Laos) chicken tenders did not disappoint.
Friday night bowling in Vientiane with Lori’s coworkers. Laos may have done a good job at staving off American fast-food culture, but somehow this piece of Americana made it’s way across the Pacific and into this relatively culturally isolated land.
Amber, Lori’s close friend from undergrad, arrived the next day. We were fortunate enough to have her with us for a full week. Noe also enjoyed his time with Auntie Amber, but seems to be enjoying our beer bottles even more in this photo. We might have to get that checked out…
Above and below, view of the Mekong and Vientiane Night Market from Bor Pen Yang bar.
Sunday morning, we returned to our favorite breakfast/brunch location in the city, which is fast becoming a go-to with guests — Ray’s Capitol Grille. Lori just received her Coconut Mango pancakes. Noe’s wondering where his food is.
That afternoon, we took Lori’s coworker, Khamone, up on her generous offer to show us around her community, about an hour outside of the city. We visited the very unique Wat Tham Pha Leusi in Ban Mai, along with her mother and son.
The temple complex revolves around this shrine tucked under a stone outcropping — a common practice in Laos. Apparently there is a cave system which runs under this place, but we didn’t look for it this time around.
It is common practice by Buddhists in Laos to leave offerings of sticky rice for the spirits in the mouth of the mythical Naga. Sticky rice offerings are left in many other places too, such as spirit houses. Obviously, the spirits can’t eat the rice, but rather it’s the act and intention that they consume. Sticky rice in Laos symbolizes life, but also spiritual currency, and this act is a negotiation of sorts with the spirit world in order to maintain balance and harmony on both sides of the divide.
Monk bathing station. It seems that one of them may be feeling a bit draftier than usual today. Common mistake, I’m sure.
Another gorgeous Mekong sunset with my favorite little Buddy-Pal. Our first time eating at Kong View — won’t be our last!
Lori took Amber’s birthday off from work. We spent the day hitting up some of Vientiane’s most popular sights, as well as kicking around downtown.
The next morning, Amber attended a Lao cooking class, and I caught a ride to the waterfront.
Eggs Benedict at Spirit House.
This is the first morning in nearly five months of living in Laos that I’ve been down to the waterfront before noon. If we do get down here, it’s usually at sunset. While evenings on the Mekong are hard to beat, the quiet and stillness make morning a strong competitor.
For weeks, I’ve been wanting to walk down to the river bank. Every time we’re on this side of town, we’re under a time crunch to see the sunset, eat and get Noe back before he turns into a pumpkin. Consequently, a several-hundred-meter slog through sand to the river and back isn’t in the cards — but it sure looks like fun! Today, I happened to be down here (sans bébé) and felt a strong moral obligation to make it happen. To the river!
Ah, the Mother of Waters, the lifeblood of Mainland Southeast Asia, the Mekong.
Admittedly, not as impressive in the dry season as other times of the year, but still, the Mekong. Not impressed? Well, we’ll just have to revisit this place at the height of the rains and see if that changes any opinions. Judging by what I’ve heard and seen in photos, however, we may need a dive suit, given that this entire beach will be gone and we’ll be standing with several feet of water above our heads.