I made this page on April 30th, which would have covered my adventures in Australia and New Zealand, but here we are in mid-June! So, that leaves my trip to Indochina to talk about.
After passing through Bangkok, I arrived in Luang Prabang on Friday afternoon. This city is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site with Buddhist temples scattered across the peninsula, and early each morning saffron-robed monks walk through the streets to collect alms.
I’ve been in the city for four days, and learned a lot from my friend Krista :) She has been teaching English in Luang Prabang for two years, and helped me adjust and understand Lao culture.
Right now, I am embarrassed to say I’m hiding in a coffee shop. Not embarrassed enough to leave it though. Even though Google weather says it is 88 degrees F outside, I am fairly certain it is hotter. Or the humidity helps it seep in extra good.
Here is a short list of things I’ve noticed
(i) My views on food sanitation are shifting
I still feel uninterested in food stalls at the night and morning markets if I see many flies landing or circling it. But! Yesterday I took home some fried spring rolls from the night markets, and while eating it found a hair inside. I pulled out the hair, and the strand broke. So I figured I would keep eating it and then look for the rest of the strand later on in the roll, which I soon found and pulled the rest of it out, and ate it all.
I feel weird about that decision when I reflect on it, but it’s already in my stomach I suppose. No stomach issues yet, though I’ve got a month more for it to happen!
(ii) I initially underestimated the mosquitos
Coming here, I decided normal mosquitos wouldn’t be too bad. In the South Island of New Zealand, and near the mangroves of tropical Queensland, there are sandflies. Female sandflies need a blood meal to lay eggs, and tourists can react badly to the bites, having never encountered them before. A few of the bites I had swelled to the size of a dime and itched like hell, leaving a scar too.
I changed my mind about the mosquitos here. Last night when we hiked up Phu Si, the hill in the old city center of Luang Prabang. I paid 20,000 Lao kip to reach That Chomsi stupa, and also paid in blood as well. Everytime I stand still to take a picture, it gives the mosquitos a chance to land on me. Each picture has a price…
(iii) I like hiking
I assumed that this would be true here as well. On Sunday, I hiked with Krista and Shane on the other side of the Mekong River for a few hours. This wasn’t steep or lengthy, but working up a sweat when it is hot compounds the heat. There were inchworms, crickets, mosquitos and butterflies!
I am no longer interested in tours to do trekking in the jungle. I can also understand why hiking is not an activity here.
It’s exhausting to walk back-and-forth from Krista’s house to downtown twice in a day, 20–30 minutes each way! It’s not hilly, it’s the heat. And the dust. I get to look extra falang(foreigner) here when I wear my sunglasses, mainly to shield against the dusty air.