Category Archives: When In Laos

After You*

'colewalks' | BKK-VTE 2014

‘colewalks’ | BKK-VTE 2014

My friends are either getting married and/or having babies, not necessarily in that order.

I guess it’s that time in our lives–or maybe the year(?)–when everyone is hell-bent on moving towards their 30s with a partner or child in tow. That’s not really a bad thing; a lot of people would kill to have a life theirs. Not that I’m one of them.

Anyway I spent the last week with babies and happy couples in Bangkok and Vientiane, no less. It was my nephew’s christening in Bangkok. Our bouncy and chubby bundle of joy screamed bloody murder during the ceremony because he thought we were going to the mall but ended up at the Church. I wanted to cry for him and with him. Just kidding.

The Godparents and Jian's 'tears of joy' LOL

The Godparents and Jian’s ‘tears of joy’ LOL

I think my nephew and I are the perfect godson-godmother tandem. We both like malls, freaking out upon the sight of presents and WE ARE BOTH AWESOME (my brother, Jian’s Dad is currently rolling his eyes).

Matchmade in heaven

A match made in heaven

The very same day, we flew in to Vientiane, my second home. Or so I think.

And here I saw my very pregnant BFF. The last time I’ve seen her was during her wedding and now she’s four months pregnant; the happy couple isn’t wasting any moment.

BFFs | (L-R) The 2014 Pose, the Prego BFF, and afternoon foodtrips

BFFs | (L-R) The 2014 Pose, the Prego BFF, and afternoon foodtrips

I spent the whole week pretty much just eating and tagging along with Mina. I also ate like a pregnant woman during that week which explains the weight-gain. And I. Don’t Care.

(L-R) At Tummour, Lao Kitchen, Centre Point

(L-R) At Tummour, Lao Kitchen, Centre Point

I had a food-list for this week and it was accomplished successfully; hoarding makeup wasn’t on the list though.

(L-R) Khao piek at Dongpalan, Khop Chai Der Musts, Pho Zap

(L-R) Khao piek at Dongpalan, Khop Chai Deu Musts, Pho Zap

(L-R) Regrouping at VTE's and my personal Point Zero; Revisiting memories at Joma; Recover at After You in Bangkok

(L-R) Regrouping at VTE’s and my personal Point Zero; Revisiting memories at Joma; Recover at After You in Bangkok–one of the highlights of my trip

The week went by so fast it felt like a dream–crazy, vivid and emotional. But just like a dream, you can’t remember a thing about it. Or maybe, I just choose to forget.

 

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Filed under Food and Dining, Musings, When In Laos

Bloody Metablogging

Alright, Lurkers, my apologies for going off the grid for quite a while. Moving from one country to another is one hell of a crazy phase–which for some reason I still keep on doing despite the consequences–plus the fact that my nth wind in writing has not completely breezed its way [back] to me yet. But here I am, all psyched to get my special problem (school) over and done with, and by all means, get back to blogging–travel or no travel.

Some two months ago (seriously, it has been two months already??), I joined a colleague, and UNICEF consultant-cum-fellow travel blogger, Andy Brown, in his quest to try laab ped or minced duck salad–a Lao specialty. I have been devouring laab from Day one in Vientiane back in 2009 and loving it since. It is prepared, basically, with minced meat (pork, chicken, beef, duck, fish, etc) tossed with some toasted black rice, heaps of red chili (optional) and mint leaves to top it off. Laab is perfect with tammakhoung (papaya salad), sticky rice and Beer Lao (you’re welcome!).

Laab Ped is pretty awesome

Laab Ped is pretty awesome

Andy wanted to try laab, rather desperately (Okay, not really!). But while I understood the enthusiasm, I could not help but wonder, “What’s with the excitement? It’s just salad. Also, they have it in Thailand!”

When they said try laab ped AND blood, I immediately thought the coagulated street-food type that I avoid at all costs (betamax in Pinoy). So you can just imagine my cringe-worthy moment when I saw this:

THIS.

That’s laab ped for you–drenched in duck’s blood.

Okay, now I shouldn’t be a hypocrite because Pinoys also serve a dish called dinuguan. But at least that one is cooked. Not fresh, and bloody red (so redundant but it can only be described as such), and…salty!

See that? It's like crime scene!

See that? It’s like a crime scene!

But I was there for a reason, and that reason is Cole Walks. And to blog about Andy blogging. So I dug in.

You see, it actually tastes pretty much the same as the regular laab. If you were to be blindfolded before trying this dish, I do not think the taste is that strong. Unless you are on Master Chef or something. Anyway, there was also Beer Lao involved, which is a life-saver in every food trip I have to say, I guess it was all good.

We also got to interview Andy about everything “British”; he even explained the correct usage of the expression ‘bloody’, which by the way, is NOT the context of this post’s title.

(L) All smiles UNTIL (M) Oh noooo! (R) He's taking notes. NOTES.

(L) All smiles UNTIL (M) Oh noooo! (R) He’s taking notes. NOTES.

When in Laos, excluding vegetarians and animal rights activists, try laab ped with blood. It’s an experience. Although, personally, it is way too extreme for me. But who am I to judge, Andy hates balut!

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Filed under Food and Dining, When In Laos

Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen

Says it all..

Blessed, that is exactly how I describe my internship with UNICEF Laos.

I love to dream. Irritatingly cheesy but I grew up believing that I can do anything as long as I work hard and commit to it. With a little smile from fate and support from my family and friends, someday I will be able to make my dreams–or as I call them plans–happen.

But if there is one thing I learned from planning, that is they do not always work they way we want them to. Something goes awry along the way, no matter how fixated one is in carrying them out. Indeed, lessons are learned the hard way but we are given a choice to wallow or to push forward.

I must admit wallowing was an immediate response to the failure stimulus; however, after falling flat on face several times over, I found out that wallowing is just as equally exhausting as moving on and starting over. After a moment of weakness that comes from every plan gone askew, I pick myself up, ignore the numbing agony of rejection and failure, hold my head up high and…dream again. But dreaming can only do so much and it could be extremely taxing to chase on something that, for lack of a better term, is not meant to be. Sometimes, it is better to let go of old dreams and just face reality as I see it.

So you can just imagine how my heart started beating double-time, alarms ringing in my ears, my head throbbing while reading that one email that changed the course of my professional career. An internship so elusive that filling out application forms is just as futile as looking for a needle in a haystack. But there was it. All the months of hard work, emotional craze, and ripping plans apart felt like a distant memory. Finally, I breathed as I wrote my reply.

Surprise! I’ve always been the Girl-Who-Takes-Pictures, this time they let me say something to the kids. My Lao was put to test!

Second day into my internship, I was sent out for an assignment in the Southern province of Laos. It was my first time exploring the South; as much as I would want to get my blog-mode on, we were on a tight schedule. The Mother of All Deadlines, as I put it. We roughly had a few hours for interview, write the story and send it to the main office. We were running on adrenaline, and perhaps, there was also that element of commitment that we were able to make the deadline. And it yielded desirable results.

After that eventful week, the days went by like a tremendous blur of tasks, alongside my Master’s classes that were just as astoundingly demanding. But what kept me going is the trust given by my supervisors and staff–so overwhelming, it felt surreal. My supervisors specifically instructed me to prioritize my studies, and never compromise it for the sake of my assigned tasks. I was treated as a colleague, and my opinions mattered. My service was not considered as just an ‘intern’s output’ but rather held with respect and appreciation, and with that, I am deeply honored.

And today, my 16 weeks of service comes to a close. It feels like a surge of emotions, actually. Relief because battling wits in class and helping with documents at work did knock me down, but also separation anxiety because I may never have this kind of experience again. Worried because I have to start regrouping and planning my next steps. Proud because I made it. Immensely grateful, bordering on feeling unworthy, of all these blessings.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to UNICEF Laos for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime and for teaching me in more ways than I have expected. To my supervisors who were patient and kind in guiding me, and for being very supportive; to my colleagues who were accommodating, attentive to my questions and always ready to help out when I am feeling lost or confused. To everyone I have worked with, to all the staff–thank you. You have no idea how much I appreciate your warm welcoming smiles.

During the basii ceremony for the new staff in August (it was held two days after my birthday actually), I said that my months with UNICEF Laos will be my best yet. Turns out I was wrong. It is the best because nothing will ever compare.

I do not have to articulate everything the organization has done in serving the vulnerable and marginalized for decades–millions of people reached and lives changed–you are a blessing to the society.

You are a blessing to dreamers like me.

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Filed under Student Life, Walk and Talk, When In Laos