Friday, April 20, 2012

Pi Mai Lao Holidays and Heat


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Every year the 13th – 15th of April are the Lao New Year holiday.

Coming from a country where ‘official’ holidays are determined more than 10 days in advance we find the way people are advised which days will be taken-in-lieu unusual.  On the 5th of April the government issued a decree that Monday the 16th & Tue 17th, would be a holiday for government organisations as the celebration days fall on the weekend.

At the same time they also said Thursday the 12th could be used for well wishing ceremonies and effectively approved a day of office parties with lots of drinking and loud music.
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Over this time everything shuts down.  Most shops and restaurants close as workers party or return to their families for celebrations.

The area around the bus station has been frenetic, with ever increasing numbers of Hyundai Starex Mini-vans transporting people from the villages to the city, and taking city dwellers back to their villages.  The roof-racks were packed to the gunnels with luggage and supplies and we hate to think how many sweaty bodies would be packed in each van.  Hundreds of extra buses were also put on to cope with travel demands

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Over the weekend the mercury had a minimum of 24 degrees and a maximum of 37.  But when you check the heat index – the opposite of our wind-chill factor and a measure of how hot it feels to a human– the maximums were 48C at about 5pm each day!   I did a history search on the weather site wunderground.com and it is about 10 degrees hotter than the same time last year.

The temperature gauge in the pool has been at 35C in the last week – so the pool is almost body temperature and therefore not particularly refreshing.  You feel cooler as you exit from the pool than when you are in it.

Air-con on the other hand is blissful.  We are quite comfortable as sit in our air-conditioned apartment, sipping our Gin & Tonics, watching the guard/gate-keeper periodically shifting his position around the parking area, avoiding the path of the sun and trying to keep cool on these balmy days.

We are looking forward to some rain to knock the temperatures back a bit!

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