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Laos Life: 24-30 June 2019

Closing out the month of June, here’s a look back at the highlights of the final week.

30 June 2019

The best word to describe our lives right now? Hot. Hot! Hot! Hot! And dry. No rain in June means, you guessed it, hot! But…lot’s of humidity. Sticky hot.

How hot is it, you ask? Hot enough to melt a mannequin!

Cover up your mannequins and get inside, everyone. It’s hot!

You think it’s hot, France? Visit your former colony and experience some REAL heat, but leave your mannequin at home.

And so, we play inside.

Does this baby corral look familiar? It was actually Noe’s…that we sold over a year ago here in town. Lori and I had been looking for something similar for Riley when I had the crazy idea to contact the people we sold it to to see if they were interested in selling it back to us. Their little boy had since outgrown the corral and it was now sitting in storage. So…now we have a corral for Riley.

It works great when Riley’s by himself, but not so great when Noe’s around. Riley always wants to be wherever his big brother is. The corral was envisioned as a way to keep him from getting to Noe’s little Lego pieces, but we’re going to have to rethink our strategy.

 

A bird flew into the window of our storage room. Can’t quite figure out how that all happened with the angle of attack and all, but it happened. Fortunately, here in Laos, it’s a pretty easy fix. We told the landlord and a few days later a guy showed up on a motorbike holding a large piece of tinted glass and a bag of tools. Fifteen minutes later, the windowpane was as good as new.

It’s that time again! Baby food making time. We’ve got some nummy green beans going on right here.

We made all of Noe’s baby food (with the exception of his rice cereal), and we do the same with Riley, given that baby food here is pretty expensive, and well, it’s pretty darn easy to make.

It’s also easier this time around because Riley eats a full meal at his nursery school. And by a full meal, I mean full.

They have a set menu for the week for the older kids — things like spaghetti with beef bolognese, stir-fried chicken breast and scrambled eggs with tomatoes — all organic and made from scratch each day.

For the babies, they throw the food in a blender and serve it up warm. Riley’s a big eater and loves it. And we love that our kids are getting accustomed to a variety of (adult) foods from an early age.

Noe’s helping daddy inspect the sweet potatoes before they become Riley’s dinner.

In the freezer, we have green beans, kale, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potato ready to head straight into the microwave when the moment strikes.

I’ve been taking Noe on longer, more scenic bike rides lately at the first sign of cloud cover. He’s been enjoying saying hi to the cows, construction sites, and the Mekong.

Here, we’re actually driving through one of the ritziest expat neighborhoods in town. In Vientiane, building an upscale housing development next to a swamp or irrigation ditch doesn’t really matter. It also doesn’t seem to matter what condition the roads are in either.

 

It seemed like a nice day, so I decided to ride all the way downtown. About halfway there, I realized my miscalculation. Yep, still bloody hot. So, I cut my losses and made an emergency landing at the closest coffee shop.

Along the way, I noticed all of these trees being planted, which isn’t something you see in Vientiane every day. I’d usually say it will be nice to return in ten years and see how big they’ve gotten, but knowing Vientiane, the developers will probably change their mind a couple of years in and put in a dozen more vacant market stalls or Chinese hotel or something like that.

 

I’d also like to see how this turns out. This is an apartment building from the 1960s or ’70s. A week or two ago, we wouldn’t have given its tired concrete facade the time of day. It’s a little hard to not notice now.

The owner got the bright idea (in the tropics) to add square meters to his units with these aluminum composite panels, with their slide-open shutters. Adds a whole new meaning to hot box.

A few doors down is the old Red Cross compound with this building dating to 1924. These old French-era buildings are becoming fewer and farther between with each passing year.

We noticed this on a recent walk around downtown. This building sprung up overnight. Not uncommon in Vientiane.

What is uncommon is to see these buildings get finished in less than a year or three. There are more structures like this than we can count that have looked like this since we moved to Vientiane in 2016, and haven’t changed.

But they keep starting new ones!!!

Getting my weekend coffee at my favorite walk-up coffee shop — though today that miffed look on my face is because their nitro cold brew machine was, yet again, not working. Their cold brew is pretty good, but when you have your heart set on something…

It’s a boat! Likely the finest vessel that Noe and I have ever built together. And…it’s on wheels (so the Legos don’t make a terrible screeching sound across the vinyl tiles when he ‘sails’ it around). A couple of days of that and I vowed no wheelless Lego boats in my house!

And now for something really special. Can you guess what this is? Come on, take a guess! Our friend Eric came over to pick up his son who was here on a playdate with Noe and brought something wrapped in tin foil that he was pretty amped about sharing.

Even after he opened up the tin foil we still weren’t quite sure what we were looking at. And…even after we tried a couple, we still weren’t sure.

Not half bad. I stopped after one, but Noe had a few, even after we told him what they were.

These are silkworm pupae. They’re a common snack here in Laos, full of protein, and not half bad.

On a whim we visited Scandinavian Bakery on a Sunday morning and were blown away by the value. All of this for a few bucks.

We have an interesting history with this place. It was one of the few places we ate at in 2012 during our brief visit to Vientiane, and we loved it. We returned in 2016 and beelined it to none other than Scandinavian Bakery, and were disappointed, to say the least. So disappointed that we didn’t return for nearly three years!!!

I’m pleased to say that our 2019 experience was infinitely more enjoyable, though the ambiance still seems to have a past-its-prime drabness to it.

 

Noe, however, enjoyed the Scandinavian magazines, in addition to the treats.

Lao Radio, a critically endangered building from another time. The pride of the early days of Communism here in Laos, the telltale fence has gone up, meaning this building’s days are numbered.

Just couldn’t quite fit that “a” in, I guess. “Makes More Cool!!!” Though “Discount Only for Take_ out” is a bunch of B.S., if you ask me. I have to imagine that plastic take-away cup and plastic baggie they give you costs something?

Finaly made it to Dada 2 Coffee! (that’s the crazy brick building behind us). I was pleased to discover that they have Nitro Cold Brew!

And…Noe got a chance to brush up on his history…

(he picked it out, we didn’t…)

It’s been over two years since the old Lao National Museum had its big farewell closing event, paving the way for the move to a brand new building several kilometers north of the city center. The heritage building housing the old museum was slated to be redeveloped into a luxury hotel. Two years on and this is the current status of things.

And the new, larger, over-the-top Lao National Museum? It’s looked finished for about two years, but still closed to the public. This may seem surprising to foreigners, but all just sort of par for the course here in Laos.

With that, I leave you with this:

Probably the best beer in the world”

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Shirley Northcraft

Just love your post!