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Vientianesomnia

A Quick Glimpse Into My Raw Travel Journals

By Dave Fox
Luang Prabang, Laos

So many stories, so little time.

A blurry shot in a blurry state of mind: Monks in Vientiane head out at dawn to collect alms.

If you follow my Twitter feed, you know I am no longer in Vientiane, the Laotian capital. I left Vientiane a week ago, spent four nights in Vang Vieng, and am now up in the northern town of Luang Prabang. But in the interest of keeping things flowing chronologically, I’ll be blogging about Vientiane for another day or two before my writing moves onward.

I spent a few hours today attempting to beat into submission a story about Beer Lao, the widely praised brew Time magazine has called “the best beer in Asia.” That story is still long and gangly, and as the sun sets over the Nam Khan River and my stomach is telling me it’s time for dinner, I’m realizing my Beer Lao story will not be ready for public consumption this evening.

In lieu of that, I offer you tonight a brief outburst from my raw travel journals – from a few mornings ago, back in Vientiane.

One explanation before we get started for those of you who aren’t versed in a particular aspect of Southeast Asian society: (1) the term “ladyboy” is the preferred and socially accepted term in this part of the world for male-to-female transvestites and transsexuals, (2) in some parts of Southeast Asia, people who choose to make this transition are more socially accepted than in the West, and (3) not all ladyboys are prostitutes and I don’t want to give that impression.

After an introduction like that (which is longer than the quick journaling blast itself), let’s get on with this, before your imagination as to why I was awake all night goes into places it shouldn’t.

Here’s my journal entry:

Very long walk around Vientiane yesterday. Worth the blisters. Was kept awake overnight by (1:30 a.m.) ladyboys screaming at prospective clients, (2:30) a disgruntled client screaming at a ladyboy, (3:45) gongs from the monastery across the street waking up the monks for the day, (4:15) more screaming outside — I don’t think it was the monks, (5:00) couldn’t fall asleep so went out to my balcony and watched the monks heading out for the day to collect alms, (5:45) attempting to photograph the monks from my balcony as they returned to the monastery, (6:30) trash collection downstairs, (7:30) a fun travel intestinal adventure. Spending today catching up on writing and other work. (And perhaps taking a nap.)

I scribbled the above blurb in less than five minutes. Next time you feel like you’re falling behind in your journaling, you might try a similar approach. Monks and prostitutes optional.

Published on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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