Laos Life: Full Circle

Returning with Noe to one of the places where it all began for us in Vientiane, and we are amazed once again at the difference three short years make.

The To-Do list for moving is always long. Last year, we moved out of one house, put our stuff in storage, went back to the U.S. for a few months, then returned to Vientiane, got our stuff out of storage and moved into a new house.

Same job, same nursery school for Noe, same circle of friends, same city. It wasn’t a typical move for us. To say it was weird is an understatement.

This time around is more of what we’re accustomed to — new house, new job, new friends, new language, new city, new country. Of course, Noe and Riley aren’t necessarily accustomed to it…but they will be, no doubt.

But finally, everything’s signed, sealed, and delivered with Lori’s contract. Well…almost. We’ve got a checklist to go through to make things official-official. Policy background checks, referents, visas, safety and security training modules, and health clearances…for ALL of us:

As you can see, Noe didn’t seem to mind.

(of course, he didn’t have to get poked and prodded nearly as much as mommy and daddy).

 

Even at 9.5 months, Riley was required to get cleared as well.

In addition to Lori’s work-related clearances and paperwork, we’ll also be selling whatever furniture and housewares we’re not shipping (and that aren’t the landlord’s or Lori’s current employer’s), deal with freight and customs logistics for everything, close bank accounts, book our plane tickets, and of course, spend time with friends.

We’ve already lined up excellent nursery schools for the boys in Phnom Penh, so that’s a biggie. In terms of housing, we’ll likely stay in a short-term rental until we find a long-term one that suits our needs.

I guess it helps that we like doing this. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing it. Lori and I love the excitement and challenge of having to re-learn everything and don’t like accumulating stuff, so the lifestyle’s a good fit.

I will say that, even with two little boys, it’s a heck of a lot less work this time around than it was moving ourselves from Portland to Vientiane three years ago. Once you’ve done it a few times, it gets easier. And moving regionally is a lot less work too.

Plus, we’ve already got contacts in Cambodia from our existing circles here in Laos, which is something we didn’t have much of moving here.

For a change of scenery, we tried out a bar we’d never been too. I ride my bike past the Jukebox frequently and have been curious.

It’s much more along the lines of places we’re familiar with outside of Vientiane — basically somebody’s house with a basic pavilion out front complete with a fridge full of beer and a very large speaker connected to a laptop for music. I guess that’s the “jukebox.”

Vientiane’s got a growing number of world-class bars and coffee shops, and while I enjoy hanging out at many of them, I feel like most are just too nice. Most of those places are indoors with A/C cutoff from the elements. I like knowing I’m in the tropics and feeling like I’m in Laos. I don’t like to be shivering in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s a hundred degrees outside.

The Jukebox was just what the doctor ordered today, and the boys enjoyed it as well.

 

Making zucchini bread.

 

First time using the Fugo by himself. He seemed to quickly get the hang of it. But that’s basically true of anything food-related with Riley. He loves to eat! He eats about the same amount of food that Noe does in half the time and gets quite agitated if you can’t keep up with feeding him.

We take a lot of walks along the Mekong, but it’s been ages since we visited Vientiane’s landmark Chao Anouvang statue. Approaching the statue from the road, we realized we’d never noticed this treelined pond before. Quite unusual for Vientiane, and like most green spaces like this, dramatically underused.

 

 

Noe found a stick. Noe ALWAYS finds a stick. Something about boys and sticks.

 

 

Noe doesn’t remember it, but he’s been here before. And so have we, a few times.

2012.

2016 (that’s a 3-month-old Noe wedged in there).

Late 2017.

And 2019.

And now…Riley!

…though he wasn’t nearly as excited. Give him a few years!

From Chou Anouvang Park we slowly made our way through the Night Market.

But not before Riley’s fans descended on him.

Another weekend, another baci

…on the highway.

So the thing with Lao bacis (Buddhist ceremonies to mark significant family events accompanied by a party and feast) is that one of their functions is to cleanse the family’s home of evil spirits and invite in good spirits.

Apparently, they have to be at the house for the good karma to do its stuff. A baci usually hosts dozens of people, all the extended family and close friends. Some people live on busy streets and don’t have room to accommodate that many people.

No worries, they just take over the street. This is a commonly accepted practice that no one seems to object to.

Lori and I often joke we would not want the table directly behind the blue directional sign. Really, I’m not sure there’s a safe seat in the entire tent, particularly once night falls.

But if you want that good karma in your residence, you don’t really have any other option, I guess. Apparently, it seems to work, as we’ve never heard of any incidents, fortunately.

Morning breakfast with Big Monkey.

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Shirley Northcraft
Shirley Northcraft

Those boys can’t get much cuter!