Thai Massage Circus, Lao 2/7/16

Journal:

Still not entirely sure what to expect on this adventure.  The morning enjoyed a homemade omelette at the hostel – its included in the stay.  Then ventured out to find the Mekong river and book on Lao.  Did not find either, got lost and then went into a volunteer organization that directed me to a school “Big Brother Mouse” where they have free english classes.  Spoke with a gentleman “Lam” for a while about the classes.

Then ventured to find food – a delicious chicken sandwich.  Also bought a beautiful Lao handcrafted blanket to help stay warm at night.  Juggled for a bit in the market and drew a crowd.  A lady and gentleman said I could easily teach classes to the local people and make a living that way in Luang Prabang.

Found the bus to camp easily – many people were going.  The ride was about an hour.  At camp I napped – nothing really happened the first night.  Missed a delicious dinner but still ate.  Joined the fire circle and the dog came over and laid in my lap “Khau” like sticky rice but not like “cow” but they sound the same.  I’m now writing by candle-light.  My little bungalow has no running water or electricity.  I absolutely love this! Can’t wait to see what its like when it warms up.

You can hear the rivers from  everywhere on the land.

Additional Notes:

The dogs name is pronounced Cow – oo .  One the last day of the retreat someone pointed out that the dog’s name was actually “White” not sticky rice but the words sound similar.  Sticky rice sounds like cow and white sounds like cow oo.  But when you say sticky rice/cow it’s not flat, you raise up and down during the vowel and cut it short. For white you raise up and extend the oo at the end for a bit longer.

The bus ride was in the back of a pick up with a top on it…they’re called Tuk Tuk’s.  There are different sizes with different names and they go for various rates. The circus had pre arranged Tuk Tuk rides for the days off.

The land is on the way to the Kuang Xi  Waterfall so it is very easy to get a ride to/from the circus and Luang Prabang.  You just go to the main road and wait for a Tuk Tuk and flag them down.  Some of our group took free rides with other tourists.  Some of the circus goers were even brave enough to thumb motor bike rides.  The motor bikes are not taxis in Laos like they are in Thailand.  In Thailand they have special certifications to taxi on the motor bike.

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Luang Prabang, Laos 2/6/16

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Journal:

The flight was only an hour.  The airline did NOT feed us scorpions – fish in a hot sauce with coconut like yogurt.  The staff was friendly.  As we came in to land the view was breath-taking.  Jungle on the mountains with the Mekong River cutting through them.  I’ve seen these mountains before in my childhood home – the pillow cases my parents had.  And they hung paintings of Laos on the walls of our trailer.

I hadn’t hit the ground yet but I was already in love with the place.  Grabbed a cab with several other foreigners – we all agreed we had been totally ripped off on the fare price.  The cab was a beat up minivan.

The driver took us to Backpackers hostel and I offered the other half of my reservation to a french girl who is also doing the Thai Circus and lost all her money in Chiang Mai (Thailand).  The hostel was full so we were escorted by the owner’s daughter to another one and shown our room.

I locked up my bag and went for a run while there was still daylight.  I jogged the craggy streets along the Mekong river and magically found the hostel again after 30 minutes.

I introduced myself to a couple playing cards and asked to borrow their phone to text home.  It was really funny because the phone was in Swedish and kept autocorrecting the english to indecipherable hilarity.  We laughed hard and I said goodbye as they headed out.  Then a shower. (Little did I know it would be my LAST hot shower for a month).

Not quite hungry yet I ventured out to find a towel and dinner.  Came across a massage parlor and was totally drawn in.  I received a massage similar to what i give and tipped the lady 25% which was around $1-$2 Us.

After the massage my bones were a bit chilled so a fire drew me in and I joined a small group.  We chatted for some time and the older gentleman offered me a beer and I sampled it.  They suggested I call my clubs a religious thing to avoid having them confiscated by customs.

The market was going to close so dinner was a chicken on a stick and a strange but delicious pancake.  I will elaborate more on Lao in the morning… for now the boys wish to sleep.

The two french gentlemen are appalled by the temperature 70 degrees!

Additional Notes:

The cab ride was supposed to be 50,000Kip per 3 people but we each paid 50,000.  (That’s about the equivalent of $5 – much cheaper than a taxi would’ve cost back home.)

That first night I got lost trying to find the hostel again.  Somehow I got turned around after the massage. Thankfully I had a map, however I failed to get the name of the hostel before leaving it so I ended up combing the streets until I figured out where I was (lack of road signs) and from there headed to where the majority of the hostels were located.

When I initially arrived at the Bangkok airport they searched my bags and confiscated the small scissors from my sewing kit and inquired about the juggling clubs.  I have learned since that it’s kind of amazing to have travelled with so much Kevlar.  Most airport customs won’t allow it into the country (or so I heard) but, I had hand stitched wick covers for the clubs before leaving.

Total number of wicks travelled with: 7   – Contact Staff (2) – Poi (2) – Clubs (3)

All of them were covered.

The return trip seemed even more risky though because they’d been soaked in some pretty intense Lao Lamp Oil and smelled like a gas station.  Thankfully there were no “Lamp Oil” sniffing dogs at any of the airports and all the tools have made it back safely to the States.