So with things happening on the company's budget front my current position will finish in Laos at the end of 2012 instead of 2013. I guess this is an incentive to get out and about even more so I better get to it.

The trip back did not start auspiciously. I wrangled my journey home so I could attend the Monash One Act Play Festival as well as the Pop Culture Theatre Showcase. I got to see Maddy win the Best Supporting Actress award at Monash and my girl has me bursting with pride again. She was judged not just among the youth performers, but the grownups too and beat them all. I got to MC our showcase and it was just successful enough to ensure we have the funds to go through 2013.

We dropped around to my sister's for dinner after the showcase and she served me up some much missed corned beef. Thanks 'Shell, it was a definite culinary highlight of my trip home.

Straight from there to the airport only to discover when I got the front of the check-in line that the girls in the travel department had not paid for my booking and so I was rejected from checking on the flight. Out to a taxi and home with some smartly worded emails exchanged the next day. I ended up travelling on Tuesday night instead of Sunday and there was no respite from bad travel experiences as I ended up surround by some russian pensioners who wanted to talk all night. The babooshka next to me was a particularly animated conversationalist and so elbowed me 15 times an hour all night and was deaf enough that her friends needed to shout at her. I sat on the aisle with her in the middle and occasionally her companions would lean right across me to yell in her ear. When I asked if they could let me sleep please, I got the "sorry no English" line from them. Fucking bullshit. It was a relief to arrive in BKK and I took the edge off by attending a pay to enter lounge with food, drink, wi-fi and QUIET. The Vientiane leg also had a snag when my airport pickup didn't get to me either. Another snippy email for that failing too.

So I started my working week behind the 8-ball a bit and had to push hard to get back in the game. Lucky I'm so good ;-)

But by the end of Friday, I was pretty fried and so headed out for dinner and a drink or two. Chicken curry and a paratha and then headed home, but on a total whim stopped at the Wind West Pub, which I have been meaning to look into as I walk past it each day to and from the Parkview. I think they meant to call it the Wild West Pub as the waitresses were all wearing cowboy hats, but it looked like a band was setting up and so I nursed my whisky and curiousity for a while to see what fired up. The band turned out to be pretty good in comparison to others I have heard locally. They had a few power chords up their collective sleeves. Now that I think of it there were two bands. Then a young Lao guy came up and asked me if I wanted to join his group. In light of my living in Lao creed to join in - I said yes.

So I sat down with a pair of young men and pretty Lao girl and we drank, and talked and danced to the band and had a silly fun time. The guys explained to me that their "hearts are for another man", which is as poetic a way of putting it as I have heard. Our girl, Honey, was apparently suffering from a broken heart. Hopefully I was able to distract from this with my usual falang charm.

Too many beers and whiskys later we headed down the road to an even bigger venue. I can't remember what it was called, but it was a massive beer barn of a place with several hundred people. Another band, some more drinks and then suddenly it was like Cinderella at the ball as midnight rolled around, the lights came on and everyone started filing out. It was quite orderly and with no apparent beligerance that usually accompanies the end of a night like this at home. Another plus point for the Lao way of doing things.

Saturday was spent dealing with Friday night's fun. I did manage to face sunlight by about 3PM and headed out to one of my favourite haunts in Lao Kitchen for dinner. It was pretty busy but I snagged a smaller table out the front and ordered a nice simple dish for dinner, shortly afterward another falang guy turned up but was really nowhere for him to sit so he asked me "do you mind" and of course I did not. He joined me for dinner and we compared our falang life here in Laos.

He works in Luang Prabang for a finance company, but he works as a local and so us "millionaire" falangs with our big living allowances make it a bit tough for him as he gets treated like a walking wallet just because he is white. He was great company and offered to point out the cool stuff in Luang Prabang so I happily shouted him dinner. A couple of bucks for conversation is a good exchange in my estimation.

Mr Ray picked me up Sunday morning for golf and it was off to KM6 again. I was excited to be playing with my own clubs and felt good with a proper wedge in my hand around the greens and my favourite putter. It showed in my scoring as I was 2 under after 4 holes, then airmailed the 5th green for a double to give them back. 1 over at the turn was pretty good. Ray was playing OK too, so he wanted to keep playing rather than adjourning to the bar and the poo sao. My driver was working beautifully so 10 and 11 only needed a small pitch onto the green resulting in a lipped out birdie easily cleaned up for a par and another birdie so I headed to the 12th even with the card. Then I drove into the water hazard at the end of the fairway. I just crushed it for one bounce and into the drink. My caddy had never seen anyone do that before so she started calling me Mr Muscleman after that. I made another double by airmailing the 5/14th again from almost exactly
the same spot and ended the day at 8 over. Once I get my distances worked out again I think I will go OK.

We went back to Ray's after lunch so I could help him set up his kindle app on his iPad and have another beer or two. His new place is very nice, less than 3km from the Presidential Palace and has a cow paddock next door to it. Vientiane is still very rural.

As we sat in the shade together on the 7th tee waiting for the group ahead to move up, we said to each other: Life is pretty good around here.

As a side note - Ray has some sort of attractor field or pheromone or something that means that waitresses, caddies etc. just LOVE him. They chatter at him, touch him and giggle like school girls around him. I don't know what it is but it is funny to see.

AuthorBruce Hardie