The first week of May was about the most fun and relaxing we’ve had in a while here in Vientiane. The weather’s been brutally hot over the past week, but we know that the wet season is just around the corner. The upside is that we’ve been getting some incredibly nice evenings, and a string of memorable sunsets. It seems that everyone’s been out soaking it up, knowing that the inevitable end of “summer” is coming soon.
Instead of taking the amazing dual-carriageway alternate road back from Rivertime Ecolodge (that nobody drives and essentially runs east of the congested Kaysone Phomvihane stretch of Road 13), we decided to take Kaysone into town for a stop at Rimping Supermarket to stock up on some harder-to-find provisions.
Located about five miles north of our neighborhood (which means 20-30 minutes on a good day in Vientiane), we rarely shop here — in fact, this is only our third visit in eight months. We know of many expats who make the trip regularly, but honestly, we’re able to find most of what we need within a mile of where we live.
Rimping is an upscale American-style Thai supermarket chain (think New Seasons or Zupans in the U.S.), and the prices also reflect that. In addition to being frugal, for us, a big part of the fun of living in a less-developed country in another part of the world is trying different local foods, but also experimenting at home with local ingredients, so paying US$10 for a box of Honey Nut Cheerios or US$40 for top sirloin doesn’t really appeal to us.
With that said, it’s still fun to shop around and see what types of delicacies they have on hand. I was very excited to finally find lighter fluid as I’ve been struggling with using local methods of firestarting on my new baby webber grill, as they tend to depend on using a ton of charcoal over a long period of time to grill up a lot more meat than will feed the two of us. I also picked up some Kingsford charcoal to help with the transition. I used local charcoal exclusively in Moz, and while I much prefer the flavor and aroma, the Kingsford will at least help me get back into the swing of things, given that it’s been nearly a decade since I grilled at home on a regular basis.
Noe also got his first ride in a shopping cart! This is actually the first time we’ve been in a store with shopping carts that have a child compartment since Noe was able to sit up on his own. As you can tell, he’s pretty happy about it.
It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, Lori had work off the following day, and we were already in the car, so we thought we’d head over to O’Grady’s — one of the few places in town that offers locally-made craft brew — and have a pint while letting Noe get some outdoor play time…
…and perfect his yoga moves…
Lately, Noe’s really been into his touch-and-feel books — tough reads, as you might imagine, but we manage.
Affogato. My first. And certainly not my last. This affogato was double — one shot of espresso for you and one for the ice cream. All beverages were half off at Love Life Ice Cream, so we couldn’t resist. Lori’s beverage was good, whatever it was. Can’t remember. Seems “affogato”.
On a sunset stroll along the Mekong, we finally figured out what all the heavy machinery we saw a few weeks ago was all about. Seems they’ve gone and thrown up a small riverside amusement park, complete with palm trees, riverside beer huts, and elephants. Yes…elephants.
This was where things stood six weeks prior:
Will be interesting to see what happens when the rains come. This “beach” isn’t known to stick around all year.
On our way to dinner, we turned a corner and stumbled upon a gaggle of monks with sledgehammers demolishing the wall outside of their temple. It’s not every day that we get to see a group of monks annihilating a concrete structure.
Lori says we don’t have enough fish in our life, so tonight, we ordered the fried Mekong fish at Dok Champa (the local place on Chao Anou…not the one in Lao Plaza Hotel), and it was delicious! Even better with the Lao sweet chili sauce!
Everything seems to be in full bloom around here. It shouldn’t surprise us — it is, after all, “spring.”
The hot weather kept getting hotter and hotter throughout the week, eventually reaching the low 100s with a heat index (with humidity and lack of wind taken into account) of the mid to upper hundred-teens.
The A/C unit in our room wasn’t keeping up (our room was over ninety at night), so we moved into the guest room, temporarily. A crew came out and made a temporary repair. Then, Noe’s A/C unit flat out busted, so he moved into the guest room just as we were moving back to our room.
We had intermittent power cuts in the neighborhood throughout the week, which made things even worse. Lori went without power for the better part of a day at work. Noe was out with a fever for a few days, but was able to return to his school just in time for another power outage. They expected the issue to be resolved mid-morning, but it wasn’t. Lori got a call around noon to come pick up Noe because he wasn’t acting well. When she got there, she saw that they had moved all the children down to a large room on the ground floor where it’s cooler. There were about forty children laying across the floor on a number of pads. It was hot, but nearly all the children were napping…all expect for Noe, who was screaming bloody murder.
Fortunately, our electricity was working at the house and Noe was able to calm down and get some rest. His fever had returned, but went away almost immediately. We thought that would be the end of that, but it ended up being just the beginning of another fun chapter in our ongoing struggle to keep Noe healthy.
By week’s end, the heat had gotten beyond ridiculous. We knew that something had to give.
That evening, I was out under the carport grilling shrimp when all of a sudden I was attacked by a swarm of flood flies (winged termites). I finished up and went inside to clean up and set the table. We heard a loud howl and all the windows in the house began to rattle. Then, the sky lit up, a deafening crack of nearby thunder followed, and the heavens opened up with a fury that hadn’t been seen here for nearly six months.
And with that, the hottest, driest time of the year gave way to the rains, ushering in what appears to be an early wet season.
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