Monthly Archives: February 2011

CouchSurfing, Elephants and Vespas

One reason I am not very particularly fond of festivals is because I’m a little claustrophobic –which is just an obnoxious way of saying that I don’t like big crowds. Moreover, I can’t stand the heat and humidity, which is frustrating because I’m totally destroying the event’s mood. With that, I wasn’t actually supposed to go with Pocklan. She “backpacks” a lot, which is why I love traveling with her but festivals are out of the question. But when she informed me that her weekend (Feb 18-20) was booked already, I was like “Where the hell are you going?” and she was all “I’m going to Sayabouly for the Elephant Festival! Pai bor? (which roughly translates to “you want to go?”)”

I don’t know, was it me or just the cocktail that time…I answered, YE-ES!

7AM Vientiane Capital

Pocklan called me saying that they arrived at my guesthouse. I was still snoozing even after taking a shower. I hate traveling early!

8AM-12nn Somewhere in Laos

On the dirt road for God knows how long, the trip to Paklay, Sayabouly is an adventure. There were areas that are paved, but the whole trip is going to hurt your butt and your head, if you’re that unlucky.  In theory, Paklay is 6-7 hours away from Vientiane Capital, up and down mountains. But the view from the top will compensate the painstaking travel. Passing all through Mekong River, with ginormous boulders and popping greens resembling savannas. The river is drying up in some parts (again, friggin’ thanks to Climate Change, it’s almost summer) so you will see a different view of the Mekong. Then there goes the forests and steep cliffs –until you reach down the mountains. Upon reaching the foot, there’s a river you need to cross to get to Paklay. From the dock, yes the dock, you park your car on a make-shift RoRo. Then off to the Elephant Festival!

Elephant Festival

2011 marks the 5th Elephant Festival hosted in Paklay. Elephants are considered sacred for they bring luck and prosperity, so this festival was launched in their honor. Incidentally, international NGOs sponsor this event –the whole program was bilingual and volunteers were all…Western. But the interesting about this event is they offer “Homestays”, kinda like CouchSurfing –book to stay in a Lao family’s house, pull-out couches and all!

Trade fair and beer, elephants bathing, baci ceremony, beauty pageant, elephant rides and the whole community’s procession together –it’s an interesting and relatively cheap (I spent around USD50 including gas and accommodation, hence, more people, the merrier!) sidetrip during February. VIP Buses cost 100,000 KIP (around USD15), Homestays only cost 30,000 KIP/night/person (around USd4). Don’t expect hot showers though.

You ask, what has Vespa got to do with this? Well,12 people all in all…five of us, that includes me, were on board a Toyota pick-up –which explains the gas money –2 were on dirt bikes and 5…on a Vespa. 10 hours of dusty, zigzaggy road but they still made it! Amazing, noh? It was also my first time to ride on a Vespa. I mean I have dreams of driving a red Vespa but because of circumstances beyond my control like my pathetically inadequate motorskills, I thought it be fun to hitch! In Rome though. But you know, things don’t go as planned, a Vespa ride on the way to the shores of the Mekong River will do!

And with that, here are some of the photos I managed to capture during the event (and because I was sooo insecure with the dudes around me, they were carrying full-formats and kickass lenses! They also got the eye, I might add).

Next year, a different province in Sayabouly will host the festival. I hope it will be more “festive” like vibrant colors, ornaments, paint and all.  I just hope I will be able to witness it again *sighs*.

 

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Filed under Events, When In Laos

Phởtographic Memory

Please giggle. I spent all afternoon (yesterday) coming up with THAT title! Okay, that’s pathetic LOL

I’ve been meaning to blog about Phở but I just never had that *click* in my head until the feature story for the magazine was conceived. Since I don’t want to interrupt random people during their me-time-lunch-hours, or okay, I’m too shy to ask if I can interrupt them and take a picture plus I know some of them will think it’s invading their privacy although now that I think about it, it’s the best way to introduce the magazine—-I pulled my colleagues out of the office to “model” for the story.  And that, I think, phở tastes even better when you’re with family/friends/colleagues! Here’s how our hour went…

And oh, lunch was my treat!! Special thanks to Ai Tan, Euai Thip, Bou, Dona and Tou! Now we all know what Phở Gold is!

Phở Zap (phở – noodle, zap – alternate spelling of a Lao word meaning good/delicious), located at Khun Bu Lom Rd, Vientiane Capital. beside Chaleunxay Hotel, which is at the back of ANZ Commercial Bank Building.

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Filed under Food and Dining, When In Laos

The Annual Mush-Fest That, More Often Than Not, Makes Me Hurl From Boredom

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me… oh no, too late. Mekong River view at Moon the Night Restaurant.

Last year, my Feb 14 was spent, please excuse my language, cam-whoring.

It was because 1) My mom and brother had to cross the border to renew their visa; 2) I wanted to “exercise” my “skillzzz”, if there’s any; and 3) I was bored to the core. So I have an album on Facebook that was entitled “it’s me & my cam on my 22nd VDay –aight that was pathetic HAHA” But now that I think about it, it wasn’t pathetic at all. That was, in fact, a notch higher than my usual bland celebrations. Some activities I had for that day were cramming for an exam/project in school, wallowing in solitude how to lose my flabs in time for the school dance (I call it school dance cos it wasn’t anything like prom) and watching reruns of my favorite TV shows/movies that include 1) Sabrina, The Teenage Witch; 2) Friends; 3) Clueless; 4) A Walk to Remember; 5) She’s All That; and 6) Mean Girls, among others. I also reread my favorite novels just so I will stay positive that at least SOMEONE in this world found it, whatever it is. There was also one time I slept the whole day and didn’t even know it was V-Day until I woke up and saw the individual heart-shaped cakes my mom bought for us. It has always been that way. Alone. Pondering. Writing.

But this year, it will be different. I will be all emo, singing songs of heartache at my boss’ restaurant/bar. Uh-huh. Singles’ Night yo! I won’t mention the name of the restaurant to save myself from utter humiliation though. I’m kidding. Or not. (Sabai Eli Restaurant/Bar located at Heng Boun Road, Ban Mixay, Vientiane Capital. It’s next to the Culture Hall :D).

What’s up with Feb 14, anyway? Why is everyone stressing about having a date on Valentine’s Day? Why should everyone HAVE a special date on Valentine’s Day? Can’t they do something “romantic” anytime of the year? I mean, what’s so cute about the bouquet of roses and chocolates and other heart-molded paraphernalia on V-Day? What’s with all the LOVE-consumerism-tactics that, for some reason, alienate those who do NOT have plans whatsoever on that particular day? Enlighten me.

But y’all very much aware of the reason why I’m frustrated, why I’m undeniably bitter. Because I am a conformist. I want to feel what other people feel. I want to see how’s it like. I want to be able to write about something other than the pain and sorrow of loneliness and blahs of individuality. But whatever, I’ll be just fine. If I’ve been on my own since my adolescent years without a trace of heartbreak, lies and deception derived from a petty and immature relationship, I’m okay. I’ll go through life not worrying about a thing. I got a good career, my studies, tons of tasks to accomplish, kickass family and friends –my life is just too perfect.

Only that, you’re not in it.

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Filed under Walk and Talk