Hello everyone! Each dawning of a new day, just brings on another adventure. At this point, I'm considering that we're in the running with "Indiana Jones". Up by 5:45am, bathing, and dressing to get to the front of the courtyard, drink a cup of coffee, to be prepared for the shuttle to the casino - pick up 7:13am. Ya'll are not gonna believe this, however, there is no "real coffee" located on this continent!!!! My 3.5 functioning level has gone Kapute! It's instant coffee; I believe I'm gonna start moving to tea, to stabilize my normal intake of caffeine!
Our bungalows consist of "a front porch" - a southern commodity, then a bedroom - not so big, and the bathroom. Now that is really interesting, as I have two buttons in one on the top of the toilet. I've been pressing both, thought it was a sure way to make sure all has gone. WELL, the technology is, you can make a choice. If one, press the right one - 1/2 a tank of water. If two, press the left side - full tank of water. I haven't had any signs of issues, but sure have been giving their pipes a true work out.
At first glance in my bathroom, there is a 17gallon trash can against the wall. (Keg size), with a dog water bowl on top. Thought this was odd, and have been looking for the dawg every since. This is not the case. Again, culture change, as it is used for daily bathroom functions - flush and bathing. Again, I'm overloading the system, as I am taking baths. Some of us here have showers, and some of us have bathtubs. I'm just thankful, as I have hot water.
The casino is having a hard time, as they are rebuilding everytime someone is let go. They had a nice road behind the casino, but have torn it up, as they forgot to place the electrical cables underneath the ground. They have the largest pool in Southern Lao. The nationality height is approximately 5ft. The pool is 6ft deep, and we hear that no one can swim here. Soooo, they are talking about filling it in with rocks. I say, just don't fill it up all the way. But who am I.
Well, a possible international incident was on the horizon. We have changed our currency to Baht. The locals use Kip, so we are constantly being shown calculators, as they are converting from Kip to Baht. The local taxis are called Tuk Tuks. ITs basically 3 wheeled motorcycles with a seating bed on the back. We requested a ride to the market yesterday, "souvenir shopping". Well, we were dropped off at the downtown market. We all knew we were headed in the wrong direction - but agreed to try it out. After a quick walk around, it was mostly food and ladies trying to sell Viagra to the guys, so we decided to go back to the hotel and regroup for another try. Well, the Tuk Tuk drivers will quickly approach you if you look confused and offer a ride. The whole deal on this is "you have to negotiate" how much. I became quickly disgruntled as we could not decide on a price, and communication barrier, we just walked away. One followed us out of the market, and the negotiations began. The price we decided on multiplied by 4 by the time we arrived at the hotel. They put it in kip - then try and convert to Baht - then it gets multiplied. I was not happy, as I negotiated 80 Baht, getting out - it turned to Kip with fingers pointing to all of us... OK - 100 Baht, just paid it and walked away.
When we decided to try this again, we did better, as we negotiated with ANOTHER tuk tuk driver pulled right behind the "rip off artist", for 300 baht - take there, wait for us, then back.
He turned out to be really nice. He took us to the wrong market at first, but we located the right one on the way back. Back at our hotel, loaded with several authentic items to this part of the country, we were happy. Beerlao time!!! Now, just so ya'll know - I have reverted to beer, as if they don't have bottled water, and not too many places have iced tea, so I feel that its safer.
Getting closer to our departure date, we are staying real close to "what we know we can eat", as we have gone through the gantlet of stomach issues. The whole group is tired, and so confused on what day it is..... Everyone of us have awaken to ask, "is this Thursday?". No, its only Wednesday for us. 2 more days, and we're "Leavin, on a jet plane". Again, its nice to have the experience, but there's no place like home. We will be leaving here with alot more knowledge and respect for mankind on this side of the world. The area that we are in is poverty stricken, however, everyone seems to be happy. And very family oriented. So the moral of the story, is.... " You can make it what you want." In the two weeks we've been here, I've only encountered one person on the streets begging. Not so in the US, as there seems to be one on every corner.
Glad everyone is checking on us, and Skype has made life easier for contact with my family. My mother can't go a day or two without hearing from her "Rose among the thorns". That's me!!!! Even though the 13 hour time difference I get to speak to my parents either going to bed or waking up.
I guess you really have to go away to appreciate what you have. Family, friends, home, as one of the items I can't wait to do is drive my SUV!!! Go through a drive through, ice tea, cutting my grass, go left at a light, from the turning lane!!!, go to Walmart, and..... Lay on my couch, and watch "anything I want!"