Daily Life, 7-12 March

Noe’s back on his feet after feeling a bit under the weather the past few days. Seems that everyone’s kids are sick these days. Cold season, I guess. Well, not cold as in cool, of course. We’ve been having something of a heat wave here the previous week. But the clouds (and cooler temps) have returned, which means a great time for getting out and about!

These signs recently popped up all over town. Kind of describes my life right now (Lori is the only one permitted to drive at present…so, perma-D.D.).

Speaking of drinking, walking by the 6pm Zumba in the park on the way to happy hour. One of these days…


Wednesday was International Women’s Day. In past places I’ve lived, marches and events are held to bring attention to issues of women’s rights, highlight the important contributions of prominent women, and women in general, etc. In Laos, however, women apparently celebrate by making the men do all the work while they drink all day.

Lori had the day off, but chose to make it a working day to take the following Wednesday off when we have friends in town. As such, she spent the morning holding various meetings at a downtown coffee shop. Noe’s school was also closed due to the holiday, so daddy was on duty.

The overcast weather was perfect for being outside, so Noe and I went on a long stroller-walk along the Mekong.

It appears they are building some sort of road out to newly constructed restaurant huts along the water. Interesting, given that the rains are just around the corner and the river will be rising in no time. Seems that they’re always doing some sort of project on Don Chan island.

Related Article:  A New Beginning

This particular reclamation project has been going on for years. You can see how much progress they’ve made since our first visited in 2012. New location for Night Market, perhaps?

In the course of our walk, I learned that up until about a decade ago, the Mekong came all the way to Quai Fa Ngum (see below) and Chao Anouvong Park (where the Zumba classes happen) was riverbed.

The banks of the Mekong were lined with trees and small local eateries and bars. Developers were forbidden from building anything taller than the city’s main landmark, Patuxay Victory Monument…within city limits.

Then, one developer figured out a loophole. If he built on an island in the Mekong, he would not be beholden to city ordinances — thus the construction of Don Chan Palace (above, center). The area between the island and river bank was filled creating what you see above.

Vientiane was once nearly 100% self-sufficient in terms of food production, owing in large part to a vast network of farms on the land where Don Chan Palace and neighboring developments now stand. Recently, it appears that the city has tried to reinstate the city farms on the new Don Chan island that juts farther into the river, but we’ll see how sustainable the use of this land is when the rains come.

 

The wonderfully neglected That Dam (Black Stupa) in the center of a traffic circle in town.

It’s mango season! Our mango tree has been teasing us with mouthwatering mangoes for months. We’ve been waiting and waiting for them to ripen, fighting potentially devastating pests along the way (which forced me to get all MacGyver with some homemade organic pesticide). And now, the day of reckoning and moment of truth has arrived. The jury is in and they are DELICIOUS. Looking forward to mango shakes, mango parfaits, mango salads, mango chicken, mango sticky rice, mango on a stick, frozen mango, mango pancakes, mango…

Related Article:  Kaeng Nyui Waterfall

Checking another new (to us) cafe — Adesso. A unique offering and swanky affair not too far from Patuxay (Victory Monument). They’ve got some good looking food and beverage choices that I haven’t seen elsewhere and there prices are reasonable for being a trendy European-style cafe.

My favorite building in all of Vientiane. Not sure what it is (or what it was), but old buildings like these in the city are disappearing at an alarming rate. There’s definitely a palpable tension right now between plowing ahead into the future, Shanghai Pudong-style, and maintaining Vientiane’s charming and laid back small-town feel.

Walking around the department store where we do our monthly dry-goods shopping, we were not expecting to be greeted by Costco-brand cranberry juice from the Pacific Northwest!

Seems the Wubbanub won this battle…

After getting a great lead on a babysitter (a bubbly Cambodian woman with impeccable English skills who has babysat for a number of prominent expats, including the country director of Lori’s own organization), we decided to give her and Noe a go together — which meant three-hour date on a Sunday afternoon!

And a hot Sunday afternoon, at that.

And…as always, Lori found us an awesome place to try out.

La Signature Restaurant at the lovely Ansara Hotel. We splurged and each got the three course set menu (the cheaper of the two) which was both phenomenal and an excellent value.

Afterwards, we strolled downtown and poked into a few wats we hadn’t been in. I think a lot of people don’t like coming downtown on Sundays because most of the shops are closed — but it’s my favorite day of the week for walking around the area.

Related Article:  New Year's on the Nam Ngum

Lao resourcefulness in two photos: Above, old water-cooler jugs as planters. Below, BeerLao table cloths as tire covers…on a US$50,000 car. And to top it off, they even faced the product correctly. Sweet.

Finally, I leave you with a photo of the little troublemaker, himself — methodically taking apart his floor mat, piece by piece, and eating it.

Naga View
Uncle Lee & Aunt Jamie
Share this Post: