Time has come to say goodbye to all my friends and colleagues in Laos. Isn’t it always the way that when you finally feel at home then it is time to go again?
I will never forget the sounds of the jungle unobstructed by any man-made noise, the feeling of being completely isolated from modern technology and the initial fear followed by acceptance that you are truly in the middle of nowhere, and the repeated thoughts of “If I fall I might die, Am I crazy for doing this? Was that a snake? Do I have malaria (or dengue or Japanese encephalitis)?”
Here are a few of my fondest memories of Laos:
I brought a bag of Starbucks coffee to WCS office and the Lao people had never heard of Starbucks. Oh such innocence!! And what a joy to know there are people in the world who don’t know of the influence of these massive chains.
The mutterings of tuktuk drivers as you walk by “Hello tuktuk..?” ever so quietly and non-confrontational.
Young children are so friendly and they generally know more English than their parents. Whenever I walk by children they always smile and say “Hello” and sometimes “How are you?” or “Where are you from?”
Trying to explain the lyrics of a Maroon5 song to a Lao guy… He was a musician and said he loved the song so much but he did not understand a few of the phrases like “pouring rain”, “waiting on your corner”, “broken smile”, etc. I never knew how deep the song was until I tried to explain it…ha
I went to the meditation at the temple Wat Sokpaluang in Vientiane. They have it once a week and foreigners are welcome to come. It is pretty interesting to try to meditate with the temple sounds of clanging gongs and chanting in addition to the sighing and scratching of stray dogs that languish around the temple grounds.
The biggest highlight of working in Laos is of course the amazing gibbons. Hearing wild gibbons sing every morning is an uncommon and indescribable blessing. I feel very lucky to have seen, heard, and studied these increasingly rare apes.