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Here, there, everywhere... A modest attempt at chronicling my around the world adventure over the next year (or so).

Students will be students

LAOS | Saturday, 11 October 2008 | Views [660]

Laos college students

Laos college students

There are things you learn about yourself after taking enough multiple 10+hour bus journeys. Examples include frequency of bathroom and meals, and the amount of sleep. I have gotten quite good at not having these things in regular intervals and when you add stunning scenery like that along north central Laos it gets a little easier. The pictures I loaded do not even begin to due justice to the scenery, only something you can see for yourself. I can not say the same for the roads between bouts of motion sickness and bumps which turned our 8 hour bus journey into 11 hours. By the time I reached Vientianne, the capital of Laos I was tired and hungry and instead of trying to find my couchsurfing host Sofil I headed into the town center to find a cheap guest house.

After turning down a few houses I settled on one, unloaded my stuff and headed for the small night market for some food. The next day I slept in and then headed to try and contact Sorif my host. I also headed to the Golden Temple Stupa supposedly holding a piece of the Buddha's breastbone and built by some folks from India in 3rd century BC or AD, can't remember. I also saw the Laos version of the Arc d' Triumph. It is interesting but really just an eyesore, even the sign on the structure says it was never completed and is mostly just taking up space. It was quite hot so I headed into a travel agency to inquire about booking a ticket to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I decided a multi-leg bus journey even with stunning scenery was not something I could take. I could not get to Siem Reap, everything was booked up until next week so I opted to fly to Phnom Pehn then taking a cheap bus to Siem Reap. It meant a little backtracking but the flight was 1 hour long vs. 15+ bus journey.I could get used to it unfortunately my budget could not.

I had the really nice travel agents help me negotiate a tuk-tuk out to Sorif's place they even wrote the location in Laos. It really still did not help the tuk-tuk driver other then getting him in the right direction but we made it to the Faculty of Engineering, branch campus of the U.of Laos. I was to call Sorif which I thought would happen at the administration bldg. When I got there no one was around so I wandered campus hoping for divine intervention. Getting none I headed back to the admin bldg which was still open to view the map of campus. I managed to stumble around some more in the dark but finally find his place on campus and left my back because no one was home. I walked back out of campus to find something to eat, wandered back in and ran  into a wonderful electrical engineering professor who spoke some english who helped me call Sorif. Sorif was now home so I head to his place. He had already brought in my bag and I quickly met the other three couchsurfers staying with him, Jenna (US), Mia(Israel) and Beth(Aussie). I showered and settled in Sorif's room for a much needed sleep.

The next day was business on a bike day so I borrowed Sorif's bike and rode into town (got lost but found my way). I picked up my plane ticked, got some US dollars for my Cambodian visa, used the internet and voted at the US embassy. That's right I voted, voted for Obama so take that all you McCainers! After hanging around town to skype with Jess (who was sleeping from an all-nighter). I rode back to Sorif's place to meet everyone and see what was going on. Mia was going to make dinner, Sorif went to play basketball and Beth wanted to get something to eat for Sorif. So Jenna, Beth and myself headed to campus to get some food. Once there I started to talk with (or try) students who were eating, one group let me try there dinner which was like Pad Thai or Pad Laos so I went to order some for myself. While eating I was beckoned by a group of students and their professor eating and drinking beer. They had me sit down, quickly poured me the local beer (Beerlao, not my favorite) with ice and begin asking about me. Soon afterward I had Jenna and Beth join us and after which they bought a few more bottles of beer we talked about our lives. They convinced Jenna to join a few afterwards for karoake, Beth and I declined. We said our goodbyes and gractiously welcomed back to Laos at anytime. I came away with a few thoughts on the walk home. One, again we do not know how well we have things in countries like the US. Two, language barriers can always be broken, maybe not well but usually enough. Finally, college students are the same everywhere. They like beer, cheap food and loud music. BTW, the residence halls on this campus make UDM's halls look like the Hilton!

After getting home we welcomed another couchsurfer coming from Vietnam (24 hour bus ride), she was fried so we feed her dinner and helped her relax. I went to bed so I could get up early to catch my morning flight to Cambodia. The Laos people are some of the nicest and most relaxed I have meet so far. I know it is early but it might stay that way. Ciao!

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