Thursday, February 16, 2012

Welcome to Laos

My sweat-soaked legs stick to the vinyl tuk-tuk seat... Welcome to Laos.

Early each morning, locals kneel before mats containing their daily alms of rice and food for the monks.  Welcome to Laos.

Our friends from our teaching organization invited us to sprawl on mats on their floors so we could save money on lodging... Welcome to Laos.

Two people sleep in a less-than-twin-sized bunk on the overnight bus... Welcome to Laos.

Tattooed tourists saunter by, weighed down by backpacks and dreadlocks... Welcome to Laos.

Each waterfall is more beautiful than the last... Welcome to Laos.

I roll a little ball of sticky rice between my fingers and use it to pick up a new favorite dish called lap...  Welcome to Laos.

The tour company advertised a visit to a see a tiger who has actually been dead three years...  Welcome to Laos. 

We are everywhere greeted with warm smiles and a friendly "Sabaidee....Welcome to Laos.

Two awesome students (friends of our friend) skipped their first day of class to accompany us on our travels... Welcome to Laos.

Many of the students don't show up during the first week anyway...  Welcome to Laos. 

We stopped at a village festival and it felt like a county fair... Welcome to Laos. 

A monk rides by on a motorbike with his orange robes flapping... Welcome to Laos.

Welcome to the land of traditional skirts, temples at every turn, and sour green mangoes in the market.  Welcome to the "land of a million elephants," where dozens of minority tribes live in remote mountain villages.  Welcome to one of the most-bombed countries in the history of the world (mostly American bombs from Vietnam era). 

Welcome to homes where you might leave your light on for fear of ghosts, streets where you can get your palm read, and altars where the wax from your proffered candle runs down to join the hardened wax from hundreds of others who have knelt before you.

Come, if you have a chance.  Tomorrow is my last day in Laos before heading back to China.  Goodbye, Laos.

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