Here now and now here or nowhere

The title of this blog comes from a play on words that "now here" is also the same letters as "nowhere" just with a space added in the middle. I am always trying to get better at being in the here and now, and I've always been a bit of a joker so that is why I chose this name.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

From Ban Navieng Kham to Ban Mano

Sometimes you just need to let the universe sort everything out for you.  

I was staying in an extra room of a place that two ex-pats lived in.  See, in Luang Prabang you need to stay in guesthouses unless you have a work permit.  There are a few ways around this policy but not many. Get caught breaking the rule and a fine can be levied, or worse they can make you leave the country (or so we're told). But the thing is, guesthouses are expensive, relatively speaking.  A cheap guest house with very little frills but still clean will set you back 6 or 7 usd a day. Maybe not that much for US standards but ex-pats living here pay a lot less. So if I could stay with some people and save some cash, then why not? It's a risk but I think a pretty safe one.  

Well, unfortunately their lease ran up and their new place has no extra room for me. Tough tootsies for me, right? So what was I too do. I talked to an acquaintance who had an extra room but he sort of blew it off as both him and his other roommates girlfriends were in town and it may have been too much happening in the house. So it was back to the guesthouses for me… or was it?

On my last day before move out day from the house in Ban Navieng Kham* (the house with the ex-pats) I get an email from a friend here who's in Bangkok. They'll be out all week and for a few weeks in September and wondered if I knew of anyone who may be able to house sit and dog sit.  Hello Universe, thank you for listening and arranging for me.  

I'm now house sitting at her beautiful house which sits on a pond (reading a book in the morning over looking a pond is a great way to start the day). There are fun local neighbors who introduce me to new foods (dog was better than I thought and who knew turtle could be so tasty!) There is also a pétanque** court in the back if I get the urge to play.  A kitchen to cook in, (made some dinner for friends last night. First time cooking in a while) and most importantly a fun and loving dog to play with.  I really enjoy coming home for lunch and playing fetch with Leon (the dog). At nights I sleep and he lies next to me in bed and he's become a good friend. who knew how much fun an empty pepsi bottle could be? (with a lack of pet stores in town you need to make your own doggie toys!)

I've always thought to myself that if I lived anywhere besides a city I'd want to have a dog. I'd want one in a city as well but it's pretty tough to find space for them, and time as city people get so wrapped up in it all. But spending my time here at Ban Mano with Leon has been a great experience and maybe just what I need.  I'm constantly thinking to myself that I need more time to myself, less being social or chasing meaningless tail.  Well, reading on the porch or playing with Leon seems to fill that spot pretty well.  Now if only I can tie some meditation into it all, though meditating while a dog licks and bites you may be very challenging.  

*for reference Ban in Lao means village. **and pétanque is a french game that is extremely popular in Lao.  Similar to bocce but with metal hollow balls. Goes great with cold beer Lao.

Mr Leon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thai Massage School

I'm only allowed to be in Laos for 3 months at a time before having to do a border run. As a US citizen I get a 1 month visa that can be extended twice for up to one month each extension. Around the middle of August would be the time my visa would expire but I also had a wedding I had to attend then so I figured I'd leave a little earlier to be able to make the wedding. You see, you can't just leave Luang Prabang, cross a border and come back. In Vientiane you can as there is a bridge to Thailand right there but in LP we're at least a day if not two to get to a border, and it ain't so cheap. So I figured if I was going to head to Thailand and incur the cost to get there that I wasn't just going to cross and cross back. No, I'd go and do something relevant. I'd go and get Thai Massage certified. why? well first off, why not? I've always enjoyed giving massages but never had proper training. Also, more importantly, there is a high correlation between Thai mMassage and yoga. In fact it is sometimes referred to as Thai Yoga Massage.  So, again, why not do this when I easily could? 

To further better the deal, my friends Adam and Kaja were going to be in Chiang Mai then and Adam ended up taking the course with me.  

As fun and relaxing as it sounds, getting and giving massages for 2 weeks is incredibly tiring. I was exhausted in ways I had never been exhausted before. Thai massage works with "energy lines" not with muscles so you release toxins that are blocking your sen (energy lines) and sickness can creep in. One day out of nowhere I had a fever, and perfectly fine the next day. Some students would get headaches, constipation, or other ailments.  But it's all part of the process and of learning.  In the end I had a great time with an especially great teacher. 

Now, who wants a massage?

Our fearless and awesome teacher, Dot.  She was so precious.

The class on graduation.  Bunch of hippies! :P

On the final day we had a fun veggie friendly potluck.

What's so funny about peace love and understanding? PS, nice belly

getting my hair done

rejection :(

she may be small, but this lady packs power. A great masseuse who knows the body and points of pressure very well.
Certified. thumbs up

dancing partners

Brothers in life and massage. Me and Adam!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

PotD - Coffee, or is it?

I had a cup of this instant coffee in Luang Namtha on my way back to Luang Prabang from Thailand.  On further inspection I can only wonder, is it right to call it coffee when only 11% is actually coffee?  How about sugary drink with trace amounts of coffee.  Seems more accurate to me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PotD - Making Pancakes

I love pancake, and that is a scientific fact! I've gone miles out of my way just to eat some of the self declared "best" pancakes. But being in Asia, good pancakes are hard to find. Luang Prabang is full of French and Belgian people so pancakes usually means crepes which ain't what I am talking about when I say pancakes. No, I mean real soft, fluffy, big griddle cakes. Lucky for me I have a good friend here in Luang Prabang who is always looking out for my best interests and she suggested that we make pancakes one day. I was all down for this. And when eggs and bacon got thrown into the mix, well this just made things even better. A little while later brunch was served in pancakes, eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and the company of some funny Lao guys. But t me, the best part was eating real, made from scratch, pancakes. Thanks Amy, and thank you to whomever invented the pancakes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

PotD - Catch of the day

One day I was walking through the morning market and I saw a HUGE catfish. sadly I didn't have a camera with me. This thing was gigantic, had to weigh at least 60lbs if not more. A few days later I saw this fella. Though not as big, it still was a good size catch.

Friday, August 12, 2011

fast boat

From Pak Beng, in the morning we headed up north to the border town of Houay Xai. After the whole day before spent on the slow boat we decided to try the fast boats. Though a little more dangerous that is not where the concern came in from. Lonely Planet has listed the fast boats as extremely dangerous, and if Lonely Planet guidebooks mention something then it must be true (sarcasm). Local Lao people regularly use the fast boats but tourists are scared to because of the rumors, and also because it is essentially a glorified canoe with a car engine tied to the back. That said, the ride was AWESOME and pretty safe though you're supposed to wear a helmet and lifejacket of which I wore neither. And in case you didn't figure it out, we didn't die.
The boats we'd be taking.
before we left I found some grilled frog and thought I'd give it a try. this one was pretty tasty. stuffed with lemongrass, garlic and chili and then roasted to a near jerky state. I dug it, though shortly after I realized that eating strange food may not be the best idea before going into fast possibly unsafe transportation methods.
ribbit... ribbit
view from my seat on the boat
view from behind me, notice my hair being flown back
we stopped at a fuel stop and got some beers. sunny day on the mekong drinking beer in somewaht unsafe vessels. :)
It's a nice life.

and a small video of part of the ride.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Slow Boat to Pakbeng

I had to get out of Laos as my visa was expiring and the only way to get a new one is to leave the country and then come back. Rather than make the costly trip to Thailand only to spend an hour on the other side and then come back, I figured I'd go to Thailand to do something a bit more productive with my time. I went to learn thai massage. With Steph, my friend from home in Luang Prabang but also heading to Chiang Mai, we hopped on a slow boat from LP to Pakbeng, Laos. A 10+ hour boat ride that creeps along the Mekong. A beautiful and peaceful day. When we arrived at sunset in Pakbeng, I wrote these words down.

After a 11hour boat ride up the Mekong we pulled into Pak Beng in the near pitch dark night and I sat smiling thinking to myself "this is my life and I love it."

And I do!

Steph, sleeping on the boat. She probably won't be to happy that I posted this.

we had some engine problems. here they are using electrical tape, rubber and a hose to fix things.

I got hungry so they let me make "mok pet" in the back of the boat. mashed (usually smoked first) chili peppers, garlic and salt. Even on slow boats I can have fun with food.

Steph and me, sharing tunes and having a good time on the boat

creeping up the Nam Kong (Mekong)

fog in the distance

sunsets over the river.