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Meditations around the world My 8-month Trip to Southeast Asia.

Feb 21-23: Of Nachos and Optical Retardation

THAILAND | Friday, 23 February 2007 | Views [1131]

Chiang Khong

February 21-23, 2007

Of Nachos and Optical Retardation

After breakfast in Huay Xai, Laos, we packed up and queued through the shoreside visa exit process, hopped on a longboat, crossed the Mekong, got stamped for a Thai visa and we were back in Thailand.

We walked up the hill and down the street a quarter mile and Bamboo Guesthouse, the lodging that had come with high recommendations. From the street it looked like nothing special. We followed the signs down the path toward the river and soon were in the midst of very well arranged bungalows in a lovely garden-like setting. We were sorted out in a room and went for a walk about the city.

The city was build on the Mekong River. Several dozen years ago,or so it looked, the city planners had made a big effort to build a paved community boardwalk along the riverbank. It was still very nice to walk along, but seemed a bit neglected. There were none of the shops or vendors along the way as you would expect, but now and again you would see people strolling or jogging by, enjoying the tranquil view.

The restaurant at our guesthouse was a piece of artistry. The cooks make sure the food is thoughtfully and lovingly prepared, complimented by the presence of the Thai owners, Jib and and his wife Tao. The eating experience is enhanced by the artful decor and the perfect music selected by Jib. We were treated to a small concert in the restaurant; Jib showing his talent on the guitar. Jib is in his fifties and is the picture of an artistic rasta hippie. His wife, Tao, has the whole mature artist thing going on. I would have sworn they had lived in San Francisco for a while. As we remarked on the perfection of everything, Jib shared with us that one should have good food for the mouth, food for the ears, and food for the eyes. We appreciated his holistic approach to living and enjoyed truly being guests in his guesthouse. They also had a 3-month old Dalmatian mix puppy whose name was salsa in honour of the absolutely fantastic mexican food they make in the restaurant.

While in Chiang Khong we passed by an optical store and I remarked how it would be nice to have new prescription sunglasses. On a pressing suggestion from Leslie, we went in the store and before I knew it I was spending $200 on new prescription sunglasses and regular glasses. I figure I did this just because I had not had enough hassles in my life to that point.

I went back the next morning and he had made both pair incorrectly. I went back at lunch and nearly fell over the sunglasses were so off. He thought the lenses were too curved and I should pick another frame. We stayed another night. I went back in the morning. He had made them wrong again. Afternoon. Wrong again. This time I noticed he had put the regular glasses in the wrong frame. He delivered the sunglasses to the guesthouse about eight-thirty at night and all but ran away as soon as I had tried them on. They still are not perfect and make me a bit cross-eyed feeling. The regular glasses, however, worked wonderfully, fit my face handsomely, were comfortable and had a crystal clear new prescription. I left them on a bus two weeks later.

Tags: asia, bamboo guesthouse, chiang khong, huay xai, jib, laos, longboat, mekong, thailand

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