Courtney. August 12, 2010 @ 14:22
After the craziness we experienced in Vang Vieng, we decided we needed to regroup.Vientiane, the capitol of Laos, is another 'quiet,' 'boring' city, and it has an airport so we booked a 4-hour bus ride and went to regenerate our batteries there.This is the bus ride I mention to some on which our driver stopped halfway through for a beer.
We stayed in a PALACE for 150,000 kip ($33 USD) / night (for a double room with two twin beds).This is VERY expensive for Laos, but we needed a palace after living with 8 people and a non-stop party for 6 nights, 7 days.
We stayed with our French Canadian friend Annick for the first two nights, before she took off on her journey to 4,000 Islands in the south of Laos.She is a great roommate - extremely pleasant, outgoing, fun, and can handle the gnarly things that most non-Americans cannot - e.g us.We met her in Thailand on the boarder coming into Laos and we actually wouldn't have made it into the country if it weren't for her.We have run into her in every city we've been to in Laos and she just happened to be on the same bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane so she stayed with us for a few days….Hopefully we'll see her again.If we do, I wont be surprised.We've run into 7 of the 11 people (in all different cities) who we hung with on the 2-day Mekong River journey, which began on the Thai-Laos border.Backpacker circle.A lot of the time you recognize a face and you both say, "HEY!How's it going?!!!Where the hell do we know each other from?!"No joke.
So not much has happened in this town for us except laundry, blogs, video and photo editing.Oh, and Kaberly got strep throat.The first symptom was that her usual sweetheart personality took a turn for the worse.I would compare it to King Henry VIII -post-syphilis.But we all know that she needs her sleep and has her few days during each month that we have to take a 'breakerly' (break from Kaberly), but this was something different.And scary.We were scared.And then she started to look really bad, physically. In the face.If any of you have seen her on a Sunday morning when we come back from a weekend in Tahoe you can see where I'm going with this but you will have to expand on the image in your mind if you want to begin to grasp the image that is forever burned into MY mind.She looked like s***.She kept insisting that she was just tired, and bla bla bla - and refused to go to the doctor.But after 2 days of this madness we took her by her sickly little hands and dragged her ass 10 meters across the street to the clinic/ massage parlor and asked for a check up.Strep throat.Just as Walker had diagnosed her with 5 minutes prior to the doctor's diagnosis.He charged her 40,000 kip for the check up and 20,000 for the meds ($13.20 USD) and sent her on her way.The stubborn little b**** insisted on a fruit shake but Dr.'s Courtney, Jax and Walker said no sugar in your throat (we were thinking sugar would attract bacteria make it worse), sent her home with her meds and an Ambien (over the counter!).
Sleeping ugly slept through the night and guess what?She was beautiful, fresh, and amazingly pleasant the next morning.I had no idea strep could go away that fast.
After Kabes was better we had to work on her stolen passport issue.I wont go into the who process.But I must say that I was quite excited to see my first US Embassy! But before we made it there, and right around the corner from it, Jax and I got lost from the other two.We ended up going back and fourth at least 15 times between the fours of us, trying to meet up (the embassy thought it was hilarious), but in the end everything worked out and Kaberly randomly ran into the consulate that helped her and ended up having dinner with him.
So, earlier, after Jacqui and I lost the girls we went to a bookstore and talked with a Lao man for about an hour. His English was so good that we took full advantage - asking him everything we could about Lao culture.We were specifically interested in the monks: why they can't touch us and if we're really supposed to get down lower than them when they walk past us….He said that was the first time a foreigner has ever been concerned with Lao culture and was so impressed that he gave us our books for ½ price.He showed us exactly what to do when the monks walked past us and we have done it every time since.
It's the most awkward embarrassing thing we do in Asia for 2 reasons: 1) no one else does it because not many are aware of this practice - even some locals.And 2) the practice is: when they walk past you, you are supposed to crouch down with your knees bent, put your palms together in a prayer position with your index fingers touching your third eye, and bow your head.With your elbows in.It's not a law or a mandatory practice but from what our friend told us, it is one of the most respectful gestures you can offer a monk.You should see the looks the other tourists (AND the locals) give us when they see four blond-hair, blue-eyed California girls drop down into this position with the quickness.And I have to admit, it feels a bit strange when we drop down, prayer-style, and then when the monk has passed, we see that he is 12-years-old.Now that I think about it, the youngster monks might be the 'novice' ones that you may not need to bow to.That would explain some of the looks….
Another incident that occurred in this city was that Kaberly and Danielle witnessed what they thought at the time was a fatal car-motorbike accident.They said something about the motorbike going under the car and thinking they had just seen his neck brake but I'll let Kabes tell that story.They met the driver of the car the next day.The motorbike driver was fine and the guy who hit him felt so bad he paid all his hospital bills.
Last thing of interest in Vientiane:we might have gone to a happy ending massage.Lao culture is so conservative that the massage parlors usually have you keep ALL of your clothing on.This one said to take everything off and cover up with a blanket - American style.But in America when they have you turn over from being face down to face up, they don't usually massage your boobs.I mustered up every ounce of energy I had to hold in the laughter.
So we're waiting on our Vietnam visas right now, hopefully flying out tomorrow!LOVE!