(Written by Dave)
First up let me report to all email subscribers that we did post yesterday but our web hosting “new email on post” service was down. So, no one received a notice of the post. If you want to read yesterday’s post, you can get to it by clicking on the link “Tourist in Vientiane” HERE.
Today was spent mostly planning the next phase of our trip. We are now locked into taking French lessons in Nice for most of January and February. We really struggled on staying Asia, going to NZ or sticking with the French lesson idea. In the end, we decided on French mainly because we want to make sure that we use our “leavewithoutpay” time for more than just travel by bicycle. By taking French, we’ll stimulate some unused brain cells a bit and also satisfy the desire to stay in one place long enough to feel a little local.
With most of the day spent in the Joma coffee shop, we didn’t have too much time for being tourist (Joma has free Wi-Fi). Dave (our friend from Britain) and Mike, Ciska, Jesse and Sammy (our tandem friends) all made appearances at the coffee shop so we were not without external stimulation with heads stuck in the computer all day. In fact we had a very nice dinner with Dave – he heads north tomorrow (we head east). We also had to say our good byes to our tandem friends today as well. They are staying here a few more days before heading for Vietnam. It was great to meet such nice folks and have a chance to swap bicycle stories, all told in English. Tomorrow we head out on our own and to parts of Laos where we’ll not hear much English. We certainly hope we can cross paths again one day with our new found bicycle travel friends.
While Nancy finalised some of the details on our France plans, I snuck out to get a sunset photo over the Mekong. Not having Nancy there turned out to be a good thing as a group of young monks found me as interesting as I found them (I was covertly snapping their photos, while they did the same to me). Eventually, through some broken English and a little miming, we introduced ourselves. One of them actually spoke pretty good English, with the aid of his trusty Lao/English dictionary. We spoke for more than 30 minutes and I learned quite a bit about the “monk scene”. They taught me a few Laos words, which I’ve almost now forgotten. They were ages 17, 19, 20 and 22. The 17 year old had been a monk for 5 years, only the 20 year old was still considered a novice monk (he has one exposed shoulder as part of his outfit, as is tradition). It was quite entertaining for me, and it seemed for them as well. We took photos with my camera and three of theirs, perhaps for the next instalment of the Laos Monk Quarterly, who knows. Had Nancy been there, I’m certain that they would have been more shy. Unfortunately as I was to meet Nancy back at the room, I had to politely decline the offer to visit their temple – now that would have been very interesting I’m sure.
We’ll leave it there for now as we have to get organised for riding tomorrow. We’ve not ridden much in the last week so we should be rested for the 90+k day that we have planned. Fearing we would depart town before the French bakeries opened, Nancy has already purchased take-away croissants for our brekkie in the morning.