Friday – an early start

I’d been looking forward to this morning, we were getting up early to give alms to the local monks. There are 3 temples near where I was staying and the monks come from various directions and pass near the house.

Kay went out and bought things to give to them – noodles, milk drinks, yogurt and custard biscuits (I think) and we put them in 2 bowls. Kay and T were wearing their traditional sarongs (that have a proper name) and a sash over their left shoulder. I did the same, but with a long sarong/skirt I bought when first in Thailand many moons ago for Kay and Ant’s wedding.

We headed out into the chilly morning and looked up and down the street wondering in which direct they’d appear from – only T had done this before with their neighbour. Luckily the neighbour appeared to tell is the various directions and likely times. Just as we finished the discussion there was a flash of orange around the corner – we had to run quickly to the right side of the road so they’d pass us, as they approached we knelt down and they opened their bowls to receive our donations, something from each of us. Once this was done T poured water onto the ground with Kay helping her and holding my hand and we listened as they chanted a blessing for the day to us.

It wasn’t long before another group came our way and we repeated the process. Was a lovely thing to be part of and a good way to start what turned out to be a lovely day.

T and I popped to the bakery for baguettes, not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but the smell of the baking is amazing.

Ant had to go to work, so it was me, Kay, T and S home alone until their lovely ‘lady who does’ arrived. And once everyone (ie S) was settled Kay and I snuck away to have a massage! We cycled less than 10mins from their house and we were at a v fancy looking spa, a little oasis of calm.

We both decided to go for a traditional Laos massage with herbal(?) – basically a bouquet garni, ones wrapped in muslin, but way bigger filled with ginger, lemongrass and other yummy smelling stuff.

First we had out feet washed and dried before going into separate rooms to change into shorts and a top. Seemed to wait there for ages, me wondering if I was supposed to stick my head out and say ‘ready’! My lady did come back and my Laos failing me, I eventually got the idea to 1) go with her and 2) take my stuff with me. It turns put we were heading to a room so Kay and I were together!

The Laos massage is essentially the same as a Thai, especially as Kay discovered they do some of their training in Thailand!! If you’ve never had one it’s not the most relaxing experience!! A lot of acupressure, stretching and general manipulation, feet in armpits etc. In a v weird way it’s relaxing, but that feeling might just come because they’ve stopped!! Oh, and there was hair pulling for me and at one point Kay declared her lady was trying to kill her!

We left the room, I think both slightly dazed, to be treated to some yummy tea and fruit – watermelon and papaya.

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After a quick cycle home we discovered Ant was there and we were off to PVO (the Vietnamese place) for lunch – yum – I dared to be different and had fresh spring rolls!

We then went to see the most significant national monument in Laos, Pha That Luang, a complex of several temples, some more impressive than others. Sadly it was also here that Ant fell foul to the local police – he apparently did an illegal left turn into where we parked – the police were immediately on us – ready to pounce on the farangs…. It’s here that Kay took over telling Ant to take T to the toilet, she didn’t need to go, but Kay was overly insistent while she went off with the police man.

The police are open to negotiation in their fines. Kay appealed to her ‘brother’s’ softer side. Apparently we were on our way to Luang Prebang and her poor daughter NEEDED to go to the bathroom. What was a good parent to do? In the end he relented to a lesser fine, cheaper than it should have been and saves a trip to officially pay it! When we left the temples to go home, the ‘no left turn’ sign is after the junction where we turned, so really seemed unfair that we were fined for what appeared to be a sign for the next junction.

To try and forget the mean policemen we went for a nice walk along the Mekong before heading towards home but stopping for a really good Mexican – food here is fab!

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