not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Falang means "foreigner" in Lao.

Today when climbing, my adoring teacher Yong invited me along to a festival in town, an annual event, only Lao people. I asked if it was okay of i brought Linda along, and he said it was fine. We agreed to meet at the climbing headquarters at 8pm. We arrived and out of a thousand people, Linda and I were the only white people there. EVERYONE stared at us....EVERYONE: monks, women, men, children, and especially young guys. We played some typical festival games like throwing darts at balloons and such. Then we grabbed a table and posted up. Their was a band playing, food, and of course-- Beer Lao. We were only there for a few hours, but we learned heaps about the Lao culture. For example, you pour someone a cup of your bottle of beer. They are supposed to finish it and then hand the cup back to you and say thank you. If they don't finish the cup it's rude- and You don't finish the just pour the rest out. So, it's not unusual to share cups, but it's not okay to share whats inside the cup. Also, dancing. You only dance in Laos if someone asks you. They ask by coming up to you, placing their hands in prayer, and bowing to you. Women don't ask men, men ask the women. And Lao men are very shy, so if a man asks you it is Extremely rude to decline. When you approach the dance floor, you don't make eye contact- especially when you're dancing. To make eye contact is scandalous. So everyone is slowing stepping around a big circle that has formed, twirling their wrists, not looking at one another. So random. Linda and I danced a fair amount and just cracked up at the slow, disconnected "dance" (or rather, a walk). We drank bottomless cups of Beer Lao. We snacked on BBQ'd crickets served with lime leaves, dried squid, fried meatballs with lemongrass, watermelon seeds and sweet popcorn. To say that we were popular with the Lao crowd would be an understatement. I think that we were the highlight of the festival- much to Yong's delight. He had a smile from ear to ear all night as he told everyone that we were with him. Linda and I called it quits around midnight-- danced out, snacked out, and a bit drunk. Tomorrow is day 2 of climbing...but Yong and I agreed on starting our excursion around 10am. An extra hour of sleep will do us both good...

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