January 17, 2013 Thursday
Day 8 of G
Well I didn't sleep very well last night even though this is the best bed so far. I have so many bug bites that I am itching like the mangy dogs we see on the streets. Enough to even get blood on my shirt. I am using anti-itch stuff topically but last night was so bad I actually took 2.5 mg of pred that I borrowed from Chiclet. Thanks Chic.
So since I was up anyway I slatherd myself with more bug repellent, dressed in my anti-bug clothing and left the hotel by myself at 5:30, in the dark to go see the Monks collect their morning food from people making merit. I knew that Jeff would rather sleep in so I left him gently snoring away. The hotel guard had set up a very small tent in the middle of the lobby of the hotel and was snoring louder than Jeff had been and was oblivious to my departure even though I had to unlock some very large doors and wasnt that quiet even though I tried to be. I left the hotel and walked more than one kilometer to where the monks processional is in the mornings. The roosters were crowing all over the city and there were many dogs sleeping or sitting in the middle of the streets. The smell of woodsmoke was in the air. I could hear the retching and coughing of people waking up behind the walls and doors of the houses. Before this trip I didn't know that this is a regular morning activity for so many people.
In town there were many Laotian women waiting for the tourists to show up so they could sell them food to give to the monks. I think it was 20,000 kip. The tourists started showing up a little later. Mostly mid twenty something Europeans who brought their morning coffee with them to drink. The air was still and just a bit nippy.There was a fair amount of cigerette smoking going on.
The monks showed up around 6:15. It was still dark out and since Andrew said it was disrespectful to use a flash I didn't until the very end so my pictures are awful. I would say that there were more monks than tourists but barely. And there were almost as many women selling food as their were tourists to buy the food.
I walked back towards the hotel. Lo and behold there were Laotian women lined up on their knees in the middle of the street right around the corner of the hotel waiting for the monks to come by so that they could make merit. No tourists, no women selling food and it was starting to get light out. Score!
I waited for the monks, shot some photos and walked to the laundry. He wasn't quite open yet but saw me and opened up for me. I don't know how he knew what was my laundry because my invoice had no markings on it and the clothing bag wasn't marked either. But he went right to it.
Back to the hotel where I got Jeff up. I wasn't feeling that well (GI queasiness- hopefully not the bug that made the others so sick) and I didn't want the hotel breakfast anyway but I went down with Jeff and had some bread. I fed the poor young pregnant cat some of Jeff's eggs and she was quite demonstrative with her thanks. Sorry Dr. Berlin. I know I sort of promised not to pet any cats or dogs while I was in Asia but I couldn't help myself.
Chris was going to the international health clinic to get checked out and then to get a hair cut.
Jeff and I then walked to town again. We walked through the locals outdoor market which was fascinating but not necessarily good for my queasiness. It was absolutely fascinating. There were live chickens, ducks, fish, frogs tied together by their feet, and little birds that looked like sparrows that I'm pretty certain were meant for food. some of the fish were laid out on the tables still gasping for air. There were all kinds of teas, fresh produce, herbs, prepared food, dead fish, frogs, meat, chickens, beef. Whatever, you name it. They even sold the firewood they used in the grills for the street stalls. i saw one women wanting to buy a 5" piece of wood. i remembered to take my ipad with so i could get a picture or two to include with this entry.
Jeff and I left the market and walked along the riverfront. We visited Wat Xiengthong which is supposed to be the nicest Wat in town. It was just o.k. I think Laos is too poor compared to the Thais and so their Wats are just not as impressive. We walked back through town and I got a banana and peanut crepe because I really wanted to try a crepe here. Not a great idea. I only ate half of it and it didn't really sit well. There was a sign at the Wat that said not to give the monks street food because it makes them ill. Guess we'll never know if I have the group bug or picked up something in the market.
We walked back to the hotel and took a good nap. Jeff got me a diet coke to see if carbonation would help. Not really. We got up in time for Jeff to climb up Phousi Hill for the sunset. I knew if I tried to climb it tonight I would lose it so I waited at the night market. He got some absolutely fabulous photos. I bought a few presents but really we have no room to carry extras. It is too bad because there are so many beautiful and ridiculously inexpensive handicrafts.
I still couldn't eat any dinner and actually passing the food stalls and smelling them was a bit dangerous for me. I passed an outdoor buffet that normally I would have loved that was only 10,000 kip ($1.25) but I had to move on very quickly before I totally lost it. I couldn't even buy any more of the coconut bites which makes me quite sad.
Jeff was taking to Sonja on the boat trip and the shoes she makes sell for 6,000€. They make shoes for the British Royals and they also make orthopedic shoes.
Time for bed. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow. If not I am in trouble because we have a seven hour bus ride that I suspect will be on some fairly twisty roads. I have my trusty plastic bag stowed in my purse just in case....
And now dear readers I must leave you for several days because we will be off the grid. You will have to wait with baited breath to see if I survive the long and winding road to our next destination Vang Vien.