Friday, April 20, 2012

Pi Mai Happenings

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Richard and Brenda, friends from NZ, came to stay for the 3 days of the celebrations as part of their SE Asian holiday. As we don’t have a car we hired bikes for them and subjected them to tours around the city - and thankfully they lived to tell the tale.

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Early morning was a good time to be out before the weather got too hot. So the pattern became, ride around the city see the monuments and temples, have lunch, return to the apartment for a swim and some inside time in the heat of the afternoon and in the evening eat.

Away from the parties, it was a celebratory atmosphere at the temples and monuments.
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1st thing in the morning people tended to be sleeping off the excesses of the previous day. Children would start water throwing first and as the day progressed the volume of music steadily increased as did the number of locals dancing and drinking in the streets.

Wetting a Falang (foreigner) seemed to be the highlight of some people’s day, but it was all done in good fun. On bike we took a mixed approach of sometimes slowing down to allow people to more gently pour water on you (and quite often they would also offer you a glass of beer) or riding through and having water flung at you.

One of the nicer experiences occurred when Brenda & I were standing in the shade outside a temple waiting while the gents stood on the other side of the road in the glaring sun to put a bike chains back on one of their bikes.  Traditionally the Lao people wash the Buddhas with flower fronds -to make merit, get good luck etc.  Two older ladies came out of temple and quietly wished us both Happy New Year (Sabaidee Pi Mai) and poured a small amount of warm water, with yellow acacia petals still in the water, on each on our shoulders.  Very sweet, very gentle - very Lao!

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Most restaurants were closed over the break and we had to resort to cooking at the apartment. One evening we decided to take a tuk-tuk to town to one of the tourist restaurants. When we stood at the main road corner a private van stopped for us and offered a paid ride (about $6NZD). This is the 1st time ever this has happened when we have been waiting and was the best thing that could have happened – we were enclosed instead of in the open sided tuk-tuk. The party was still all on and we would have been totally soaked, if not for the van.

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We returned home by tuk-tuk, the party had settled down, but not stopped. We got 3/4 of the way home dry, but had to stop on red at the That Khao traffic lights, and of course received a big drenching.

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