In Ken Thao, Xayabuli province, I checked into the Ivy Guesthouse instead of the Minta, where I had stayed before. It was more expensive at 120K Kip vs. 80K – about 11 beers vs. 7. Yes, this is actually how I do my conversions in Lao: in numbers of 130ML beer bottles full of Beer Lao.
(Ken Thao transit center)
Typical of most Southeast Asian guesthouses, I had to watch my step. Smooth and shiny wall tile is preferred on floors; rather than floor tile which has some grip to it. Consequently, if there is any water on the floor, it is very slippery. At my age, one good fall could be a show stopper.
After I settled in, did my laundry, showered and organized myself for walking around, I had a little bit of an ATM scare.
The one outside of Ivy indicated I did not have funds to complete the transaction. So, I went down the street to the bank only to find it closed. This is when I found out that today marks the 40th Anniversary of the Lao Revolution, which is celebrated annually as Lao National Day. Of course, all banks and government offices were closed. Luckily, the bank had an ATM outside the bank compound and I had no problem withdrawing my Kip.
The next minor problem was with my Lao sim card. The first place I went to, in the market, the teenage girl was not helpful at all; she really could not have cared less. All I wanted was to reactivate the card and put some minutes on it. So, I went to another cellphone shop – of which there are many both in
and in Lao. Two Japanese guys set me up with a new sim card and calling
minutes. Apparently, it has been so long since I had used my original sim card
that the number had been completely deactivated. The first girl hadn’t known
enough to recognize this. I think the last time I had used that older sim card
was when I
“said goodbye” to Nuey, a year before.
In the market place, I looked around for stuff to buy. I always have specific things in mind and have grown used to probably not finding them in my size. Not that I’m all that big. It’s just that Westerners have a considerably bigger bone structure than Southeast Asians.
I ate dinner at a small restaurant that had little raised platforms outside for eating on mats. I ate, drank a bottle of Beer Lao and then joined a middle-aged women’s party at a restaurant across the street. I had heard the music and was drawn to it, never imagining what I would find. I was warmly received and by the time I left, had contributed six Beer Lao’s to the cause.