Thursday, September 12, 2013

Andrew is flat out

Our mode of transport in Vientiane is the bicycle – every day it takes us to town or to the market.  Andrew has mastered the road rules - mainly because there are apparently none.  On a 4 lane road it is entirely possible to be in the far left lane, and to cut across all other lanes to turn right – no need to position yourself in the right hand turning lane.  The painted arrows showing which are the turning lanes, are actually just there for decoration.

Andrew sees himself on his bike around town something like this:

The reality is closer to this – helmet askew, sandals and all

In the 7 days I have been away he has managed to puncture three times.  If it wasn't such a pain to repair, I would think he was attention seeking.  The pump we have doesn't fit the inner tubes his bike has and he has to go across the road to the motor cycle shop and pay 15 cents for the air compressor.

The 1st puncture he managed to get to the bike shop on the other side of town and get a new inner tube (which DOES match our bike pump) – cost fitted to the bike, $4.50 and 3km each way in the hot, hot sun

The 2nd time, the next day and on the new inner tube, he had a puncture cycling back from watching the All Blacks play Argentina and he had to walk part of the way home.  This one he repaired himself

Then on Tuesday he came out to the bike park and for a change it was the front wheel that was flat – the one with the old connection – but this time the tire had perished and had damaged the inner.  So needing a new tire his plan attack was to take the wheel off and take it to the bike shop 3km away to fit a new tire & inner.

Of course we have no tools, so 1st he tried out his miming & pointing skills on the building guard.  Either the guard didn't have any tools either or he didn't understand international mime language – result no spanner.

Ever resourceful, Andrew wheeled his bike next door to the large truck yard.  I'm sure they were a little  surprised to see a random foreigner wander and start miming and jabbering in English. But it must have worked because he got a spanner and a local to unscrew his wheel nuts.


He then rode my bike 3km back across town, balancing his wheel on the front of the bike, to procure a new tire, whilst dodging traffic and as usual giving advice to other drivers.  “It wasn't easy Paula” he told me.

In other reports from “Andrew alone in Vientiane” he suggested he might go to the market and get some turmeric root.  The local word is something like Key-min.  His response to my checking his language question “what do ask for?” was See-min  Smile

Monday, September 9, 2013

August in Vientiane (& other places)

August was a messy sort of month. Originally Andrew was supposed to go to Burma when we got back from Borneo, but that got deferred. So, with a bit of time on his hands, he went back to New Zealand for a board meeting. He managed to fit in a trip to Arrowtown to see his father and Anne & Ron. He then sped back to Wellington, got some tasks done, visited Albinia, experience the big earthquake and managed to cook a bit of red meat for himself. Whilst he was away I was supposed to head to Burma for a Month's work, but that too got deferred. So I rattled around the apartment & Vientiane. It was VERY nice when Andrew got back. But then he wanted to do things his way, and I had a lovely routine in place, so there was some readjustment needed.

We decided to get new computers while Andrew was back in NZ. I couldn't support him on Skype because that week a lightening strike took out the security system and Internet at the apartment. I had Internet, but it was very slow. Apparently my instructions sounded like Y-y-y ou neeeeeed op [silence] [silence] [crackle] [silence] ooooooooos keey. Andrew couldn't understand this and the next time we talked he told me he had had some help. I did wonder if he had talked to the 2 school boys over the road (hi Marcus &Kirsty) who would have been light years ahead of him. But no, Andrew with the help of Geeks on Wheels got his laptop set up.

Then he decided he was afraid if he opened mine he might stuff it up...he does have a reputation for being technologically challenged. So he brought my machine back to Vientiane basically new out of the box. Highly excited by a new toy I lifted the lid and...nothing, just a black screen. After a series of emails the good news was that it was covered by International warranty. Even better news was that Vientiane, as of a month ago, has a Samsung agent. Sadly their 1st case turned out to be a difficult one. Two foreigners with a non functioning laptop. Joy for them. They don't get their technical staff until next month so the laptop was dispatched to Udon Thani, in Thailand, the nearest service centre. After a week it was diagnosed as having a non functioning mother board and is not fixable. Udon is talking to Bangkok about what happens next.

Andrew's trip to Burma turned into some home-based review, which on the positive side meant he didn't have to travel.

With a little time on our hands we made some effort to visit or revisit some of the restaurants in town we had been meaning to eat at.    One thing I’ve noticed is that the signs have improved since we first arrived…