…or 1 year and 3 months in Laos. I: fell in love with lush Lao nature; laughed tears with my novice students; was close to strangling my students; ate Khau Piak at  streetfood stalls; slurped noodle soup at the shop across my house; smelled stocked blood and animal intestines at the local market, smelled fresh mangoes and tropical flowers; saw superman; felt the smoke from slash-and-burn in the air and in my eyes; raised an abandoned baby cat; arm/paw-wrestled with my not-so-babycat-anymore; taught it to do a high-five; crossed the Nam Khan river with a little boat every day for a year to get to work; declared flip-flops my favorite piece of clothing; mowed my 60 cm-high lawn with a custom-made machete; became desperate trying to get the tonal pronunciation of Lao words right; felt proud of my first 10-minute Lao conversation in a temple with the wife of the chief of the village; tried to learn reading and writing the Lao alphabet, gave up on trying to read and write the Lao alphabet; drove my Lao teacher crazy with questions; only memorized 3 phrases in Khmu language; swam in pristine Tad Sae and Kuang Si waterfalls; got lost in little countryside villages trying to find hidden waterfalls; eventually found the microscopic waterfalls; munched my favourite Gyoza and spring rolls; pigged out on the vegetarian buffet at the Luang Prabang night market; learned the difference between pig-out and pork-out; chased after snakes in the hotel garden; talked to my pet-spider Steve in my bathroom; did excursions to waterfalls with my novice students; learned how to make Kathongs (little banana leaf boats), learned how to cook Kao Poun (the best one in Laos!); cooked more than ever before; looked up at star-lit skies; went for evening walks through temple grounds; saw some thousand Hmong people during their New Year festival in their beautiful and colorful costumes; received blessings from my novices and monks; participated at Buddhist festivals; learned to chant in Pali language in temples with monks and novices; got grinned at by locals and novices chanting in Pali; was called Falang thousands of times; watched huge funeral processions passing through Luang Prabang’s streets; got into crazy water-fights during Lao New Year; got soaking wet on a bike during rainy season; saw double-looped rainbows spanning across Luang Prabang; rode elephants and bottle-fed a baby elephant; listened to the many gekkos in and around my house while falling asleep; started naming little see-through lizzards which live by the hundreds in Lao houses; savored fresh croissants and pain au chocolat at the French bakery; waited for Lebkuchen in the mail;  spoiled myself with 110 Lao massages; drank Lao Lao whisky during Lao New Year; bought a baby-blue scooter; took naps and watched Tatort on youtube; painted the scales of a huge paper naga green; practiced yoga with my own private teacher; pulled a muscle and got back onto the mat; learned about Kinesiology; tried to grow European basil, severely failed at harvesting a single leaf; got organic vegetables fresh and handpicked from the living-land farm; got myself 4 Sinhs (traditional Lao skirt) tailored, almost tilted over on my bike trying to ride wearing a Sinh; road tripped through the mountains on bumpy dusty streets; listened to horrible karaoke music everywhere in town, thought about pulling the plugs of the speakers, thought about paying the karaoke singer to stop singing; learned to line-dance at a nightclub; watched the mist over the Mekong at 6 am while monks collected their alms on the streets of the town; tried to avoid drinking Lao Lao whenever I could; admired sunsets from a boat on the Mekong; toured the South of Laos 360 km on a scooter; watched coffee growers work on their fields on the Bolaven Plateau; climbed the steps to Wat Pou in Champasak; did 3 visa-runs with a scooter to Thailand; learned how to die silk; watched women weave and make Saa-paper; was taught meditation by a monk-friend  in an enchanting forest, got lost with a monk and 2 novices while hiking back a different path; got addicted on Peppermint-Lime shakes at Mekong fish restaurant; got even more addicted on sticky rice with tamarind sauce; received blessings and many white strings around my arms during Baci ceremonies; watched Novices leave the temple, watched novices become monks, watched monks leave the temple; made artificial snow with my students; lit paper lanterns and made wishes and sent them into the sky; got stared at by water buffaloes crossing the street; returned thousands of waves from little hands yelling sabaidee to me; inhaled 2 liters of dust whilst biking on dirt roads; distributed 190 kilos of clothes and English books in little villages; bought 120 prepaid telephone vouchers; flushed down the toilet 68 cockroaches; learned the true meaning of patience and slowing down; worked as a teacher and hotel manager/ problem-solver/dispute-settler and babysitter for grown-ups; had great friends visiting from around the world, made great friends from all over the world; refrained from killing mosquitoes for Buddhist reasons, changed my mind about the bloodsuckers again about sparing them; heard the temple drums at 4 am and 4 pm 75 times; took 7.329 photos and deleted 4.928 of them; wondered if or when a coconut would fall on my head from one of the trees around me; broke my toe running against a table-foot; watched cheesy romantic Thai music videos at the bakery while waiting for my bagel, watched people riding their bikes, watched tree trunks drift by in flooded rivers, watched bamboo bridges get swept way; fought against thousands of ants, hundreds of cockroaches and some rats while moving into my house; bought huge rat-traps, learned that rats don’t eat cheese in Laos, gave up on using rat traps after almost chopping off my fingers, realized that my cat is not only refusing to pay rent but also does a lousy job at catching anything with 4 legs (her specialty is biting and scratching 2-legged creatures); did a last-minute trip to Cambodia and Angkor Wat; thought about my past, the present and my future; valued everything I have and I experienced and I was and I am; made plans for my future, got excited got scared got worried got nervous got optimistic got curious about it.

A pretty full year I would say.

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About Brita Graser

my biggest passion: travelling. That's why I created this blog - to share my adventures and experiences with of of those who have the same interest. enjoy!

4 responses »

  1. kurts49 says:

    Like the text, lke very much “learned the true meaning of patience and slowing down”, like very very much the photos ….

  2. kanizayp says:

    You forgot to add …..played host, tour guide, restaurant and entertainment advisor, trekking guide, interpreter, cultural advisor and shelter provider to the many of us who dropped in and we are all glad to have shared a little of that journey with you. What a year

  3. Carla Frey says:

    Hi Brita. We don’t know each other. I am Carla from Switzerland and I was traveling Laos in 2012. In Luang Prabang I met Jutta and had the great opportunity to stay at her house for a few days. Unfortunately I don’t know her family name or her e-mail adress or anything else. Somehow I found your Blog and saw Jutta in some pictures 🙂 So I’m really interested about what she’s foing and how’s it going..,If she’s still in Laos or back in Switzerland. If you have any adress or something it would be great if you could send me it to me, that I can get in contact. Thanks a lot! I wish you all the best for your trips and hope you are enjoying it! Carla

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