Have I told you how much I love the Australia Network? They have 4 AFL games on each weekend, although Friday night's match starts before I finish work. I raced home and got in front of the telly early in the second quarter then went down to kick off my washing at half time. I suspect this will be a Friday night ritual for a while to come.

Saturday morning saw us taking yet another shopping expedition. Dan and his family were looking for fresh produce and I was still in the market for plastic shoes and also tonic water. Very few mini marts seem to have tonic water.

This time we went to the Khou Din market (I think) which was full and busy and hot and crazy. It had plenty of fresh produce and plenty of shoe and t-shirt shops so I think I'm going to be in luck here. I found some shoes pretty much straight away. Not a lot of options for my giant feet (see previous) but they will do nicely. Next on to my quest for tonic water.

I wandered around for a bit and then stumbled into a section of the market that made my head spin. It was like a combined food court / butchers / fishmongers without a single source of refrigeration in sight. Meat laid out on benches, fish being cleaned and gutted in the middle of the path. Buckets of chunks of *something* fermenting in some brown liquid. This was not for the faint of heart and I will certainly not be adding this to the tour for any falang friends that come and visit. It was actually quite confronting.

There was strong trade in what looked like care packages. An orange bucket filled with shampoo, toothpaste, panadol etc. Sort of like Xmas hampers we get at home, but without anything edible in them. No one understood my question about what they were for.

I finally found my tonic water. "Thao dai" (how much), I asked while holding up 6 fingers trying to get a price for half a dozen. "90000 kip" was the answer. Hmmm.. that's pretty steep, I thought to myself before I realised that she was referring to the entire slab. It seems that these places are like mini wholesalers and so I had to buy a wholesale amount. I suspect that this is where the mini marts shop for their goods. $11 for a slab is actually not bad I guess given its' scarcity so I decided to go with that.

I also got myself a magnificently kitsch shirt with elephants on it so I can blend in with the falang natives.  Super Falang!!

Saturday night saw a party at Sticky Fingers to celebrate their 11th year in operation. I got the invitation by virtue of working in the same office as the owner. I met some cool and interesting people who pointed me at some things I should do and see and that I will definitely be hooking up with again in the future. There seems to be a tech community here in VTE that you wouldn't expect that all seem to be attracted to the wild west promise of the industry here. I had a really good time


I was introduced to a couple of other guys from the company and they were the completely cliched ugly ex-pat miners. Fat, sweaty, drunk, misogynistic and racist. Awesome. I've picked the quaddy One of whom appears to be the coach of the Lao Elephants and so I am seriously reconsidering my involvement with that group. I just couldn't get away from the place fast enough after 15 minutes with those guys. It made the night end on quite a sour note.

I was a bit rusty waking up on Sunday morning. Got up in time for Offsiders on Australia Network that went straight into the footy - except it was Port v Freo and so I fell asleep again. Got up around lunch time and snuck across to KhongKao again, but the place was utterly dead. The band cancelled and so I ate my eggs benedict with a bloody mary and flat white in solitary silence.

No site visit planned this week and just as well looking at the weather forecast.

AuthorBruce Hardie