We have been here for exactly four weeks now. A lot has happened. We have got ourselves mobile on bikes, I have enrolled in Lao language classes, Matthew has started his internship at Vientiane International School and even done the odd spot of teaching. What is it like here?
We arrived by small plane (the wound up by a rubber band type)
This is where we live – right next to Wat Amon (not Amphone as Google has it) and the Russian Embassy. Vientiane International school is 3kms away. Not far, but a challenge to walk in Vientiane heat. Click on the map for more detail.
We live in a place with lots of lanes, tracks, and some roads. It took days for me to figure out how to get from town to home. The road names (if there are any) are in squiggles, and I had no data on my phone for Google maps. Here are some of the lane ways near our home:
The road outside our house is below. Homes often double as shops, barbers, eateries. Of an evening we can walk past and often see children watching TV while adults mind the store. Local homes sit along side huge mansions – the Chinese ambassador has a place here for example as does the Australian ambassador.
Shopping for us is on Sokpaluang Road. Veggies from the local street vendors really do taste good. They aren’t the perfectly round, unspotted shiny kind you get in western supermarkets, instead they are locally grown, often pock marked and FULL of flavour. The locals are also teaching me names of food and how to count. Hand signals come in useful.
The Wat next to our house is called Wat Amon (not Amphon as Google maps has it). At the moment it is rainy season which lasts three months. The monks stay in their Wats for the season (Buddhist Lent). We are told there is an obligation for a Buddhist male to join a monastery at some point, if even for a few weeks. Children also join the monasteries for education and leave when they finish. One young monk came to introduce himself as we explored Wat Amon. He came from the countryside near Luang Prabang and had been at the Wat for two years, finishing off his high school. One of his favourite pastimes – watching Buddhist films on a laptop.
At full moon during Buddhist Lent the monks have a series of nights where they bang gongs and chant. At 4 am. Next to our house.
Speaking of which, here is our abode. Houses here go from local huts, to smaller dwellings, to large posh affairs, to mansions. At the moment there are 5 of us living here (Matthew’s cousin and husband, another teacher who moves into her apartment shortly and us. It’s quite a change from our 2 bed flat in Leichardt, Sydney.
And of course nothing is complete without a favourite watering hole from which to watch your favourite team. This is the Highland Bar (run by a Scotsman) overlooking the Mekong river.
And for those that care, they won.