Utopia volleyball

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Louangphabang,
Saturday, February 26, 2011

The boats dock at the riverbank children offer to carry our bags up the steep stairs to the city street. Climbing up these stairs I can see the French influenced streets of beautiful Luang Prabang. Traveling with the boys is interesting because I'm not sure they've shared a room with a girl before now. I find their generous attempts to allow me privacy kind and humorous. 'If you need alone time or want us to leave for a bit just let us know.' With appreciative laughter I tell them we're leaving to explore the city. Heading out we bump into the Canadian girls from the slow boat we find the best deal on some delicious street food, an all you can pile onto one plate for 10,000 kip ($1.15 USD). At 7pm we eat our first meal of the day. I filled my plates and stuffed my face with to much food. The man cooking the food looks at the boys plates shocked to see how much they could actually fit on them. His expression when he reaches for their plates indicated that he should be asking more money from their epic mountain of noodles and veggies but doesn't. Their ear to ear grins said it best, 'thank you and we'll be back again.'

Strolling through the night market we see the typical handbags, belts, shirts, dresses, crafts and bottles of 'medicine' being sold. These are basically rice whiskey with snakes, bear feet, spiders and other various animals. If I get sick they better treat me with these Oreo Coffee shakes I see advertised everywhere, which by the way is the best shake I've had on my trip!! Finding the best bar in town we head to Utopia. The name say it all. Bar, pool, fooseball, bean bags, bamboo balconies over looking the river surrounded by plants and most importantly a sand volleyball court!!! I love this place especially because I sign up to play in a tournament in a couple of days. I am sure its going to be crappy volleyball but I don't care because I get to play! Sadly the nightlife here ends at 11:30 and we all got drinks to go as we search out any bar daring enough to stay open for another hour. Successfully this twelve year old kid shows us to a bar and he stays with us until he falls asleep in the bar and gets kicked out. No he wasn't drinking but he had school in 7 hours and needed to leave anyway.

Morning comes and we head out on trek to visit the Hmong villages. This trek proves to be more like the hikes I would do back in Colorado and I feel great for actually exercising again! There is an insect that our guide must have stopped to record the sound it makes at least five different times and the sound it makes is nothing I've ever heard before and also indescribable. Learning about the village, how the store food, have one ruler for the multiple villages, differences between the tribes (one story or two story homes indicates their status) as well as seeing the children in school as the only time the two tribes interact. Outside of this they do not share anything, even food. Our guide asks us questions to learn about American and Israel I finally feel like i am in an area so remote that he has no idea that the USA has a president (instead of a king) let alone who Barack Obama is. He asks me if he googles the name if he would find anything on him. Relaxing after an exhausting hike we chill with the group. 

The group of us hires a tuk tuk we head to the waterfalls and the water is teal blue and refreshing. Jumping from the cliff or from the rope swing we take over the pool and to our surprise the boy who showed us the bar that is open late shared a tuk tuk with the guys here. We have our own personal tour guide for everything here. The only thing I don't like about the waterfalls is that is filled with fish that eat dead skin (this doesn't hurt but its not pleasant either.) I don't think this spa trend is something I will pay for here or back home.

Eidan and Matan leave for Vang Vieng the next morning while I stick around to play some ball, Dan and Sophie arrive and we hit the town running. Their group from the slow boat trip, Hannah, Amber, Roger, Phil and many others are hilarious. The winner for the best pick up line in Laos goes to Roger, 'Do you enjoy sleeping? ' Ya why? Um, I forgot what did I ask you?

Bumping into Roger and Phil at breakfast the next morning I'm surprised that either of them remember my name since they can't recall any hing else about last night. Let me just say that the remember the bar they were at two hours before I met them and Phil waking up this morning in the hallway of their hotel face down and naked (but covered thanks to Hannah) while Roger slept on the floor of their room (or in the bathtub, I can't remember) under a cover should tell you their state of mind the night before. Laughing through breakfast I tell them about the tournament at Utopia tonight and we all agree to meet up there later. Checking out the city I meet some guys from Maine who have been building a boat for the past three weeks to sail as far as they can down the Mekong river or until they reach Vietnam. I hope they make it without ripping the boat up on the rocks. These guys have been friends since birth bascially and are finally taking a trip together through S.E.A. Its just like the movie 'without a paddle' but different.

The tournament at Utopia was a lot of fun. I felt like the compeition could have been better if we would have played 4's instead of 6's but since a lot of people signed up the teams were made and shuffled around a few times to make it even. To bad because these Asian guys know how to play some serious ball. With their quick sets, blocks and jumps serves that barely stay inside the back line and I feel like doubles would have been a lot more fun. Regardless my team gets formed and we win our first game! The second game we get shuffled around because Jim is so drunk that he can barely find the ball and thankfully a new team is formed for me and some others. Second game we won by 15 points. The organizer tells me that Team Heather will sit for a two games and then play again. I asked him who named our team and he just said what else do you want to call it. I asked the team to give me anything for a name and they said the same thing. I don't like being the center of attention and ask them to switch it but they don't. Whatever. Sadly we lost by two points in our final game and took second place because we all took a few to many shots with the other teams. Sabatoge I tell you!! Regardless it was a fun night and after celebrating with the team and the guys from Main at a local house party, I head back to finally get some shut eye.
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