Long Journeying in Laos

Soundtrack: Some crap Isan music. Loud

2/17 Bangkok to Vientiene: 11 hours (sleeper train overnight [Thai RMs know and love it; actually quite pleasant])

2/20 Vientiene to Luang Prabang: 9 hours (ghetto fabulous bus with an awesome hobbit bathroom [see previous post])
2/23 Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw: 5 hours (facing backwards in a truck bed on a midget stool. Don't worry, the few times slammmed brakes threw me backwards, a bag of rice or a stranger's upper thigh caught my fall)
2/23 Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi: 1 hour (long tail boat to a town with no electricity)
2/26 Muang Ngoi to Nong Khiaw: 1 hour (same boat, this time wetter due to rapids)
2/26 Nong Khiaw to Luang Nam Tha via Udomsay: 8 hours (Minivan. Warm and dusty)
2/27 Luang Nam Tha to Huay Sai: 5 hours (minibus. Warm and dusty)
2/27 Across the border Huay Sai to Chiang Khong: 3 minutes (boat)
2/27 About to board Chiang Khong to Chiang Mai: 5 hours (minivan)

SO over bus rides.

But no complaints for this scenery :)

Post with more experiences than transportation and my actual pictures to come shortly! (thanks and props to Ben and HJFKlein for their photos here)


How to build a bus ride

  1. Take Mt. Timpanogos (or any large, shoot right out of the ground mountain close to your heart)
  2. Take it into Photoshop
  3. Ctrl + Copy (C)
  4. Ctrl + Paste (V) enough copies to fill up the screen (as far as the eye can seeee....)
  5. Paint the mountains a hundred shades of green
  6. Sprinkle in a few splashes of bright white or pink cherry blossoms (few but really POP)
  7. Shave white and rust red cliffs on prominent edges and corners
  8. Dot thatched bamboo and wood villages sporadically throughout the scene in muted brown
  9. Carve a windy road snaking through the scene
and VOILA!There's me on the way to Luang Prabang, waving with a smile, trying not to puke, passing time by learning to read Hebrew with my new Israeli friends


Que Sera

Soundtrack: Que Sera

I am often a compulsive planner. I can admit it. I think in my Google Calendar, I schedule everything. I even schedule free time. January I had planned to the tee. Every day, I knew where I would be, what I would be doing and with whom.

No longer.

Since Page and Co. hit the air back to America, Lisa and I are homeless, planless and lacking any sort of direction. We were originally going to head to Vietnam for Chinese New Year (tet, whatever) but decided to bop around the islands a little longer. Then we were going to head to Cambodia overland and on to Viet. Not yet.

So now I'm in Laos, and I think it is perfect. We'll be here maybe... a week? We've touched base with the connections we have here (good ones) and we'll see what happens?

Talking with some adorable older women on the overnight train last night we giggled (a polite, accented chuckle, really; not the little girl giggle I'm used to) about the song Que Sera.

Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be;
The future's not ours to see.
Que sera, sera,
What will be, will be.


Island hopping

No job, no prospects, no life really. But I'm not worried!
All I need for my future:
Give me a few essential supplies
A decent locale
And a splash of color
That's all I need. I'm a happy girl!


Same Same... But Different

Soundtrack: You're Beautiful by James Blunt with a fade into I'm Yours by Jason Mraz

People always told me that going back to the mission after the mission is strange. Not good, not bad- just strange. Amen.

My first day in Thailand was the eeriest- I rode the SkyTrain and walked down Sukumvit 23 like it was nobody's business. I ruled these streets (and by ruled I really mean kindly and with zeal invited others to come unto Christ) two and a half years ago and I'll do it again. I had my companion, we were busy on errands, I may have even been wearing a skirt. But wait, where am I and what am I doing? Shopping for clothes, checking into a high so hotel, and scoping out cute backpackers? I may have done all of these things as a missionary (cheap markets, Cactus after the break-in, no comment) but all of the sudden I'm just a tourist, expected to do all these things. Identity crisis ensues.
Dr. Page on the Skytrain
It is amazing to me how much of Thailand really is the same; just as I remembered it but dug up from a deeply buried memory bank once I see it, hear it, smell it, whatever. Lots has changed though, whether by time or my relationship to it as one without the badge.

Running list of some observations:
- Crazy traffic at all hours of the day or night -- it gets worse after 9:00pm!

- Top 40 hits in taxis, restaurants and on the street. When I was here You're Beautiful was played multiple times a day. I have heard it twice since I've been here-- Jason Mraz- I'm Yours has taken over the streets, sometimes on repeat

- Pink, blue and purple taxis -- now haggle with you for fares! It's a fight every time to just get the meter on.

- Spicy spicy spicy -- my tolerance has decreased

-Talking to strangers -- I'm really good at asking about people's families and what they believe in. I guess just plain asking for directions to tourist places is okay?
-I LOVE NAYLUANG -- and that will never change (though the current government spins in circles)
-Church in Thai: such eloquent-sounding speech for announcements (esp. in Asoke thanks to Bishop Sarawut's killer bass), the beautiful sacrament prayer, wai's between friends upon a late entrance, being called up on the spot to bear my testimony -- A half different congregation and testimony as a visitor

-Cheap food -- BKK on the street, was about 25 baht a plate, now 35 is cheap

-I speak Thai -- I guess better than I used to. I've had about 5 people ask me if I'm half Thai and another 5 or more tell me they thought I was Thai til they saw my face. There couldn't be a better compliment.

-Cute boys hanging around downtown -- that I get to flirt with :) (not the guy in this pic, please)

-Biking -- in gangs?