Laos Life: 4-13 January 2018

Every year, Lori’s birthday seems to sneak up on us. I guess that what happens when you have a birthday four days in to the new year. But this year it was extra sneaky, popping up the day after we had visitors in town for two weeks and a week before our next set of visitors.

I try my best to make things as special, if not more, than what Lori does for my birthday, but it’s hard. Lori’s such an awesome birthday planner, and my mid-September birthday always seems to fall just at the right time, when we are ready for a weekend away. Having just returned home from a week up north and gearing up to go out of town again soon, being home sounded better to the both of us than anything.

So, as is often the case, Lori had a birthday celebration in town — this year, that meant good ol’ Vientiane. To make it up to her, I tried to stretch it over as many days as I could, starting with a fun lunch at a new place she’s been wanting to try (Mango Mania) to a modern dance and music show at her favorite studio in town, with more fun in between.


While the timing wasn’t optimal for planning a big out of town adventure, it was perfect for having her parents bring out birthday presents during their December visit.

We’d eaten out every day up north the previous week and were pretty excited to be home, so we didn’t make a special trip out on Lori’s actual birthday. But I did barbecue up some tasty burgers, which are a treat in themselves here.

The next day, I brought home a slice of delicious double chocolate cake from JOMA bakery.


Saturday, we had breakfast at Adesso cafe and attempted to re-stage a memorable photo we took about a year ago, which didn’t turn out exactly as we planned.

I’ve been trying to get this shot for a while now. There are guys that ride around Vientiane on their motorbike with bags of koi and goldfish tied to a pole on the back. So odd. I absolutely love it. This is the best one to date from a moving vehicle.

No hijacked one of Lori’s coworker’s baby’s ride. He was not so willing to relinquish the vroom vroom to the poor baby.

Neighborhood kids fishing for whatever can survive in the canals of Vientiane. Whatever it is, I’d imagine it probably has three eyes and glows.

Sunday morning, as happens occasionally, the house filled with deafening music that rattled all the window panes in the house. It’s really a miracle none of them have shattered yet. Some times, it’s a live band on the back of a flatbed truck. Today, it was this:

Wondering what someone does with such a vehicle?…

…Use it as a lead vehicle in a Lao wedding, on the procession route from the wat (temple) to the home of the bride. Since we live on the road of the main neighborhood temple, this happens pretty frequently. The 20-speaker pickup, however, was a new twist.

Fanglao Dance Company is one of Lori’s favorite places in town. It’s a local dance space that hosts regular performances, right up the road from where we live. In the past, she’s gone with girlfriends. But this being her special week/end, I opted for the babysitter and to go along with her.



It’s called Dumb Cane, but should be called Dumb Owner. Unbeknown to me (and apparently, hundreds of other plant owners on the interwebs) sap from this plant is caustic, toxic, and downright poisonous! I guess I’ve been lucky up until now, as I’ve replanted and pruned these guys with my bare hands and never had issues. Today was a different story.

After working with this plant, I washed my hands as usual, then, several minutes later felt an extreme burning sensation on my left hand. I treated it using the recommended first aid listed online, but the damage was already done. Over the next week, the palm of my hand completely hardened as if it had been burned very badly, and was painful to the touch for about five days.

Apparently, in medieval times they used the sap as torture, forcing people to drink it. It rarely kills an adult when ingested, but causes long-term, often permanent pain and damage.

Needless to say, I will be getting rid of these plants soon. Shame, as they grow crazy fast and I’ve enjoyed their company (up until now).

In other news, a new supermarket near us is opening…or at least trying to. A half-ass Chinese supermarket at the foot of a half-ass Chinese development isn’t terribly exciting. However, this is still Vientiane we’re talking about, so we still tend to get excited about such things, only to have our expectations dashed nearly every time. And this time was no exception. The supermarket was about a quarter full with things you can get pretty much anywhere (including the Chinese supermarket a five minute walk away). The LED lights were way too dim to read anything, and the whole place was depressing, perplexing, and made me feel downright ill — pretty much along the lines of every other Chinese project happening right now in Laos.

Noe’s been enjoying the breeze and Lao radio during snack time on daddy days. In the past, I’d change the station for Noe when the music ends and the announcer comes on to talk in Lao for five minutes. Lately, however, Noe’s been giving me the evil eye, as if to say, “Hey dad! I was listening to that!”


The Mister’s also discovered a new way of getting around the house.



The Vientiane lineman…is on the line…

“Helping” mommy and daddy at the supermarket. Unfortunately, he got so territorial with the new mop that we ended up having to separate the two and eject the Mister from the basket. The kid has an inexplicable obsession with all things sweeping right now.

Probably my least favorite place in town for events — Vientiane Center. The big, fancy [for Vientiane] mall that somehow always feels claustrophobic, even on a calm day. Never mind event days. Ugh. Nonetheless, the Culture Day put on by one fo the area international schools was interesting and well done, within the space they had to work. Noe particularly enjoyed the dancing and music, per the usual.

On our way out, we stumbled upon this.

Nope, not a Gap — those sorts of things reside over the river in that twisted and bizarre place we like to call Thailand. This is just a shop where they suddenly decided to put up a Gap sign in the window. That’s Laos for you.

Speaking of Thailand, it’s 2018! Which means land crossing restrictions have reset for us non-ASEAN foreigners. Provided the Mister stays in good health (FINGERS CROSSED) we’d actually like to make the trip a mile THAT way to finally check out all the crazy things we’ve been missing for the past 16 months. Stay tuned!

13 January 2018

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