So I am coming up to the end of my first month in Laos and I'm going to call it a success.
I'm starting to get a groove going at work. Lao people understand the dozen words or so I'm using. I haven't died of food poisoning. I've met some people and done some stuff. Things are working out.
Out on Tuesday I noticed a sign at Noy's Fruit Heaven (and it is quite heavenly) that there was an English group there on Wednesday nights for Lao and expats to get together and work on their English. It seemed like a something I could help at so I turned up. Unfortunately, due to some pretty heavy rain, not many others did. There was only me, a retired English teacher from Adelaide and me representing the native speakers to join up with a young guy from Vietnam who is working for the Mekong River commission and local guy who works for the Dept. of Resources (or something like that). Essentially we just talked about work and stuff and when words of note came up we would break out and discuss the word a bit deeper. "Posse" stumped both us English speakers on its' root. I guessed Spanish, but it turns out it is latin - Posse Comitatus which is more suited to a legal dictionary than the wild west.
Descriptions of work at the Mekong River Commission reminded me of the management of the Murray Darling Basin with competing vested interests - except harder. Imagine replacing the four warring states with five sovereign nations and then tell me how hard it would be to have a coherent policy.
If you are in Vientiane, go to Noy's. She does an amazing fruit shake. The ham baguette is like a SE Asian BLT and is utterly amazing. Noy, herself, is impossibly pretty and treats the place like her lounge room with her friends hanging out and she is happy to invite you in as well. This is one of the good "that's just so Laos" experiences to had.
We found a Pho shop near the office. It's hidden in a side street, has no English language signage at all but just ask for the Pho Noy (small pho) and a big bowl of happiness will arrive in a minute or two.