Friday, December 27, 2013

Chilly Christmas in VTE

It's been a bit on the chilly side in Vientiane for the last three weeks. Even though it's technically the cool season, temperatures are 5 to 10 degrees below normal. We went out for a walk this morning and we chatted to a local lady (who speaks very good English) while she waited for the monks to pass for the morning making merit ritual. She was wrapped in a big coat and had a thick shawl draped around her head. She said to Andrew, wearing his merino jersey and shorts - you are so lucky you don't feel the cold - it's 12 degrees you know!

We know! We have not had the air conditioning on for 3 weeks, we wear trousers and socks in the evenings in the apartment and the shower never seems to actually feel hot. It's so bad there are stories in the local and Thai papers that people are dying of cold related illnesses.
 
Temperatures are ranging from 9 to 24 degrees this week, whereas the normal range for this time of year are 18 to 28 (according to the daily almanac averages since 1995)

This is what your typical lady returning from market looks like at this time of year... scarf, coat, gloves, socks

And how you rug Grandad up so he can watch the early morning traffic outside your noodle shop.  A good thick pair of towels, an acrylic woolly hat and socks in your crocs.

As well as the people being rugged up against the cold, the local pet dogs have been to the fore in doggy fashion. (My spell-check changed doggy to dodgy and that probably isn't too far wrong). We've never seen so many dogs here wearing clothing, as we have this year.

On his own he is quite cute

But a pair are cuter still

The more laid-back dog this year is sporting a casual rugby shirt

While for the lady dog, this year's colour is pink and the hair is worn in pink rubber band pigtails.

And the most vicious of the dogs I photographed was this little thing.  He/She bared it's teeth at me and yapped and growled.  But if I was having my photo taken whilst wearing a hoodie and crocheted skirt I might be a bit embarrassed too!


Christmas is not a holiday here, but the Lao love anything shiny and any excuse for a party. So there has been plenty of tinsel up in various places and sightings of Father Christmas outfits. The school next door to our apartment is 'international' (but has mainly Lao students). We have heard them singing Christmas carols for a couple of weeks. However, we would have preferred not to have heard the 3 hours of Christmas music that started blaring out at 7:30am on Saturday morning - they are now on holiday till early January. But on a sound scale, that was nothing when compared to the music on Christmas Day evening. It sounded like a major concert was happening in the street behind our apartment. So we walked around to see what was happening. It turned out to be three separate houses in the street with competing speakers, all playing at full volume. There isn't really any noise control authority to worry about here.

We followed french tradition and had a réveillon meal on Christmas eve - mainly because our favourite restaurants, all french, were closed on the 25th.  So for Christmas day we cooked at the apartment, drank a bottle of Champagne with lunch and polished off a special Portuguese red for dinner.  Not too shabby.

Even though Andrew's favourite cocktail bar is closed until mid-late January we've managed a few wines and cocktails to keep ourselves happy.


(note the Merino jersey on 2 separate occasions here;  not the normal t-shirts that Andrew is usually photographed in.  We really do feel cold at the moment)

P.S. As I write this we just received our electricity bill for the month of December.  $15.  Normally it's a hefty $30 or $40, but with no aircon needed...

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