Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Last Day of 2011 I...

 1. ...rode to Thailand in a bus Lisa Frank would be proud of.

 2. ...rode from the border squished in a tuk-tuk with 12 other people.

 3. ...watched this guy eat Phad Thai with three forks. 

 4. ...contemplated buying some Monna Lisa

 5. ...purchased this delightful corduroy jacket. 

 6. ...ate traditional western food while Hong ate traditional Lao food.

 7. ...saw the tallest Christmas Tree in Vientiane followed by the most popular one.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Noodle Soup- The Polite Way

A common lunch here in Laos is noodle soup. There are a couple of different varieties. This one is called Kao Piek (wet rice). It consists of broth, thick rice noodles, meat (usually chicken or pork), fried onion, and spring onion. You can ask for it with or without coagulated blood.

1. First, you must decide how to dress your soup. The choices are: fish sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, tomato sauce, vinegar, hot peppers, pureed ginger, sugar, MSG, ground pepper, lime, and bean sprouts.

2. I chose ginger, bean sprouts, and lime.

3. Pick up a noodle with your chopsticks. This can be tricky as the noodles are very thick and slippery.

4. Place the noodle in your spoon. If the noodle is too long to fit, cut it with the edge of your spoon.

5. Add to your spoon anything else from your bowl that you would like to eat. I added a fried onion. (The thing that looks like a leg is actually a delicious fruit shake. You can a bit of it in step 7.)

6. If you get a beautiful chunk of meat like this one, it’s easy to eat. If you’re foreign, they’ll often give you the nicer pieces of meat. The lady serving us actually said “Tooay nee samlap falang dur!” = “This bowl is for the foreigner!”

7. If you get pieces like this one (more common), you’ll have to use your fingers to make sure to get every bit of meat off of the bone.

One bowl of delicious soup costs 12,000 kip = $1.50.

So how do you take your Kao Piek?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Too Many Ants

For Christmas, my mom sent me this delicious treat:

With bits of real Peppermint Candycane!!

I’ve yet to find packs of hot chocolate here, and a regular-sized box of candy canes costs $10.

I tried to have a bit of self control and wait until a special occasion. Yesterday I had a MASSIVE craving for something chocolaty and minty.
Occasion enough for me, I went to the kitchen to plug in the water heater.

I was almost too excited to notice that the heater was…moving. Crawling, to be exact, with hundreds of thousands of ANTS.

inside, outside, upside, downside...

Momentarily, my craving was replaced by repulsion. The following pictures document the disassembling and cleaning of the heater. This involved an inappropriate fork (do you spy?), hair cutting scissors, and GAZILLIONS of ants.
After everything was clean, I was afraid the re-assembly process would be a bit tricky. Thankfully, I had taken lots of pictures of the dis-assembly and was able to put the heater back together relatively quickly. 

These are the words I desperately wish I could type. (

The first piece I tried, I put in backward which sealed the lid tightly; I was unable to pry it open to put the rest together. The remaining pieces littered the counter.

Wrong. Totally wrong.

Ant-repulsion having been taken care of, my chocolate-mint craving came back full force. The rice cooker proved to be a good water-heating choice.


And what of the broken heater? This guy pried the lid off in 30 seconds and had the whole thing put back together before dinner.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Motorbike Helmet- 4 ways to wear it

Confused about how to fashion your motorbike helmet to best suit your personal style? I know I was, so I’ve compiled four celebrity-inspired looks to help alleviate confusion:

(, 2., 3., 4.

1- The Neil Armstrong 
Visor is completely closed. Recommended when driving behind pollution-spilling vehicles.
2- The Jocelyn 
Position visor so that it slightly obstructs your vision. Not recommended while driving.

3- The Yoanna
Position visor just above eyebrows. Add a bold lip for drama.

4- The lime cat
Visor in the complete upward position. Scowl fiercely.

As you can see, by simply placing the visor in different positions, you can change the entire look! I decided to try out each of these looks using my very own  helmet. Which do you think is the most successful?

Whoever your inspiration comes from: Neil, Jocelyn, Yoanna, or Cat, wear your look with confidence taking comfort in the fact that every person on earth looks ridiculous while wearing a motorbike helmet.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Merry Little Christmas Tree

This being my third Christmas in Laos, I thought it was high time I invested in a tree-sized Christmas tree. Here are the trees from my first two years:

My roommate had a (mayyybe) 2 foot tree that we set on a table. 
(love me some I Spy puzzle!)

Travels to Luang Prabang prevented any Christmas decorating.
So I claimed this ginormous beauty as Christmas tree 2010
Yes, I had big decorative ideas for this year. Unfortunately, my faux fir plans were thwarted by teaching busy-ness. Still, wanted to put the beautiful presents that my parents sent to me underneath...something. So this is what I threw together a few days before Christmas:

 I took a plant that my landlord put in the house

 ...wrapped it in garland, used jingle bells for ornaments, put presents underneath...

 ...and voila! Instant Christmas tree 2011!

That is, in fact the same puzzle that graced the table in 2009. Some traditions are sacred. This puzzle is one of those traditions. Christmas trees, apparently, are not.