Trip Start Aug 25, 2006
18Trip End Sep 12, 2006
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Change of course and I'm off to see my first Lao temple: Wat Wisunarat, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang
Keo told me that someone had stolen his CD player from his room in the monastery. Who steals from a monk?! To save up the money to buy a new CD player would take him 5 years. Apparently, many of the monks have foreign sponsors who they meet while the foreigner is visiting the temple. Another monk came in at one point sporting a tiny mp3 player and I understood that he had a bit of money coming in from the UK. Interesting. I offered to send Keo my CD player as I don't get the opportunity to use it at all. His response floored me. He told me that I should keep it because I'll probably need to use it now that my iPod is gone.
After the theft, I followed Keo back to his room at the monastery to chat. He was visibly upset as he thought that his attempt to show me the temple resulted in the theft. I didn't know there were people with kind hearts like this left in the world. . .you know, apart from my mom. I knew that if I didn't calm him down, this would lead to some serious unnecessary praying. I tried to convince him that any New Yorker shouldn't be caught dead leaving their valuables anywhere and that I am wholeheartedly to blame. He told me that he might want to go into medicine some day. He loves chemistry. He also speaks 8 languages: English, Lao, Mandarin, a little Korean, French, Italian, Russian, and Thai. Wow. His English was pretty flawless apart from an inability to say 'glass' and 'twin' effectively. Anyways, much more likely for him would be to go to Vientienne (the new capital of Laos) and study to be a guide like Ti. There must be a lot of money in being a guide. We talked for hours until I realized that by sitting on the floor cross-legged for so long, I could no longer feel my feet. Before I left, Keo gave me a bracelet and blessed me in this life and all others. I may have lost my iPod but frankly when I really think about it, I gained something much more important. Easier for someone to say when she knows she can buy another iPod before the 5 years time it will take Keo to buy another CD player.
So, I said au revoir and headed to the neighboring wat: Wat Aham. Wat Aham was previously the residence of Sangkharat (Supreme Patriarch of Lao Buddhism). I ended my temple tour with a visit to Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham. Inaugurated in 1821, Wat Mai succeeded Wat Aham as the residence of the Sangkharat until that position moved to Pha That Luang in Vientiane. The gold walls tell the tale of Vessantura, the Buddha's penultimate birth.
And then back to the room for a little R & R and an attempt to forget the previous loss of one very dear iPod. Back at the room, E returned from his explorations of the town and we set off together to find ourselves a Laotian massage. He, a full body massage, and I, one foot massage. I must say the massage, while still quite good, wasn't quite as good as the one in Bangkok but it was somehow cheaper. In Bangkok, a one hour foot massage cost 200 baht (approx $5.50) and in Laos, 120 baht (approx $3.50). Not bad. Not bad at all.
We then met up with the American posse, Jennifer, Matt and Sara for some beer at the local pizza shop. This is one of those moments from the trip that I will never forget. Drinking, laughing, and sharing dirty stories about the human cannonball woman. After drinking a few Leo, we said our goodbyes to the group and promised to write. After reading a glowing recommendation in the Bangkok Airways magazine for the 3 Nagas restaurant, I insisted on dinner there that evening. It was Laotian-French fusion and very good. I think we would have enjoyed it more had we not been fighting at the time. I think whenever you spend 2 and ½ weeks with someone, the little quirks that we usually keep to ourselves come out and tend to cause a frustrating scene for everyone. Of course, it was a momentary transgression but uncomfortable none the less. Luckily, I got piss ass drunk and proceeded to make light of the situation by falling off the bed back at the room. Ah, my elbow!!