I know, I know, I told you guys that I will be going back home for good. But two words, my dear — travel writer.
So I guess I’m back. And really, it has only been a week but all the work, extra-job activities like taking up my Masters online and my Digital Natives project, I feel like killing myself already. Not that I’m complaining, things have been amazing for me this year and I’m ready to battle it out. Opportunity doesn’t present itself, so once you find it, nurture it.
It was like fate –I went back to Vientiane at this time of the year and during my arrival was the celebration of That Luang Festival and the 450th year of Vientiane.
Pha That Luang is this gigantic golden stupa built in the center of the capital that symbolizes Lao nationalism. That Luang Festival, on the other hand, is one of the largest (if not the largest) festival in the country; a religious event held in and around That Luang, monks from all over the country gather to accept offerings from the people. An international trade fair, where almost everything can be bargained half the price, also takes place all day and night. It’s a week-long event with cultural shows and street food –lucky to be here, yet again.
Last year, I wasn’t allowed to enter the festival because I was wearing jeans. Apparently, you can enter the premises, watch the shows and shop, but not go around the stupa unless you’re wearing sinh or the ever-so-beautiful Lao skirt. But of course, locals cannot possibly control everyone, so they put up a rent-a-skirt stall just to wrap around your waist –then you can see That Luang at large.
This year, I wore my sinh but the student volunteers who served as security asked me to button-up my sweater because I was, they said, wearing a shirt with a relatively low neckline. Unfortunately the buttons of my sweater are placed chest down. I just couldn’t get everything right, could I? Good thing I got the strap of my camera bag as cover-up. Bottomline: Dress conservatively.
Very few photos for this week, it was night time so I found it hard to shoot. But the more important thing is to see how gorgeous Pha That Luang is and plan to see it for yourself 🙂
There’s another interesting thing going on in the country, let me tell you. From November to more like March, Weddings are left and right. You see, August marks the start of Khao Pansa or Buddhist Lent. During this time, it’s sorta frowned upon to hold weddings because everyone, in principle, must be at peace and merry-making doesn’t exactly show that. Even nightclubs close their doors earlier than expected. Come October is Ork Pansa or the end of the Buddhist Lent, and they celebrate this by holding the Boat-racing Festival –which also translates to: it’s Wedding time again! And if you’ve read my Lao Wedding Tribute –you will know for sure why I am panicking.
Responsibility starts when fending for yourself starts. I think I became very OC with my place because I want it to be clean and smelling fresh all-day –cos I want it to be worth the pay. I even bought cleaning materials, air freshener and scrubs for my place. I walk 15-20 minutes everyday to work, depending on my pace. Whenever I arrive at the lobby, I’m all sweating and my makeup is slowly coming off. It’s a good thing I straightened my hair back in Elbi because now I wouldn’t have to worry about humidity destroying my bob. But whatever, I must walk to shed off my “holiday weight” and to save. As I walk to work, I’d like to believe I am in New York City where walking to work is lifestyle. Coping mechanism, that is.
And this time around, I swore that I will be serious in studying written and spoken Lao. It’s difficult, but then again, nothing’s easy. Okay, I haven’t gotten to the writing part yet…I mean they are scripts for crying out loud, it’s like they are being drawn and I don’t know how to draw. Okay, I’ll stop making excuses.
And oh, if you’re wondering what the title means –it’s 450 years. Hah! I know numbers!