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Laos, December 27, 1999

Christmas Morning on a Moped

Vientiane is a great place to wake up on Christmas morning

The monks come in all shapes and sizes, but only in orange
That ain't no Lao Santa
Ain't it cute, they pose in front of a car!
I wonder if they met at Samlo
Her boyfriend wanted me in the photo too!
Making friends...
A view through time
Was I that drunk?
Whenever I'm faced with an early morning departure, I usually try to stay up all night partying, intending on sleeping when I'm on the train/plane/boat. In Russia, I passed out many times just as the train was pulling out of the station at 6am, for the Russians do know how to party. In China, my luck wasn't so good, for the Chinese, with a low alcohol tolerance, aren't ones to down vodka by the liter. Facing a 10:30 am flight to Bangkok this Christmas morning, I tried my luck with the Lao, and what a night I had!

My Christmas morning didn't start the way it usually does, with piles of wrapping paper scattered all over the living room floor as my parents and I dig for the goodies. No, Christmas Morning of 1999 officially started with me standing on the back of a Lao's moped, flapping my wings and trying to fly.

I'd planned my cash, and Christmas Eve found me with $5 in kip (Lao money) and all of the Vientiane nightlife to explore. I started out at Samlo, an expat pub, where less than a $1 got me a liter of BeerLao and a seat next to a New Yorker and a Londoner taking the piss out of each other. No, this isn't some odd homosexual twist, 'taking the piss' is English slang for talking crap about life, love, and the usual bar subjects.

Two hours, another liter of beer, and an Aussie later, I was chatting with a Finn, an Aussie and two local girls. With those bad three to two odds, I moved over to a table of guys from Detroit who were having a blast barking like dogs. With my own yep added, we managed to formulate an excursion to the Chess Club with three local girls.

This is where the moped scene comes in. Unlike anywhere else I've ever been, everyone in Vientiane rides mopeds or motorcycles, and from this experience, I have only one observation: Chicks on bikes is sexy! So there I was, on the back of a Lao's moped, singing, flapping my arms, and if the fuzzy memory is correct, I even stood up and closed my eyes to feel like flying.

Luckily, we arrived at the club alive, though the Lao girl quickly disappeared when the massive language barrier (she didn't know English or Russian and I sure don't know Lao) became apparent.

Her friends then sent what I vaguely remember as a procession of women over to me, either to keep me busy while they seduced the men from Detroit or because Lao is just that friendly of a place. I didn't last long as the odd man out, and wandered outside for a tuk tuk home. These three-wheeled motorcycles, with benches in the back for six, are the luxury limos of Laos, and this night I was the sugar daddy paying for a group of Laos to get home after working at the restaurant next door.

We didn't make it to my hotel, not because none of could speak the same language, but because the tuk tuk, as happens, broke down a block away. Walking home in the cool night air, I heard a 'hello' (I told ya they're friendly!) and wandered into a birthday party going in full swing. There I found a seat, tasty Lao food, and a Russian speaking host, proud to show off his 20-year-old daughter to the world.

I don't have a clue if I ever saw her, but I did see a photo of him and his brother on Red Square in Moscow, one of the few signs the Soviets were in this People's Democratic Republic. At daybreak, I crawled up the stairs to my room, skipping the cold water shower, and just brushing my teeth before heading to the airport.

As I slowly sobered up at the airport, I found more money in my pocket, about $5 in kip. Without a clue how I got it, and no need for the money now, I gave it to a young mother who could use it, while she waited with her friends and family for a flight to some remote village.

Hey, it is Christmas morning!

Now, after a swim in the pool, and fresh seafood fried rice for lunch, I'm gonna take a well-deserved nap before seeing what presents await me in a Bangkok Christmas Saturday night.

Laos, December 23, 1999

Lao Money Comes in Bag or Bucket Size

The Lao kip can be used as wallpaper Good use for a ton of kip Laos uses money called the 'kip,' and they sure use a lot of it. Like Russia, before its re-denomination in 1998, there are thousands of kip to the dollar, 7,600 to be exact. When I...

Laos, December 21, 1999

Smiling With a Beerlao

Vientiane relaxes with a smile on the Mekong They wish it was Beer Lao! Let me guess.. its the UN! A Lao alarm clock Buddhism is so creative! I really should have the Lao flag on this page, but since I haven't seen it yet, and the Beer Lao sign...

Continue reading "Smiling With a Beerlao"

Laos, December 20, 1999

The Lao PDR Doesn't Like Internet Freedom

You better not want to FTP in Laos If ya squint, you see freedom What is there to do during the day in wintertime Vientiane? Not much really, since it's just a bit too cold to head for the beach along the Mekong and not all that easy to spend...