Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Here and safe!

Hello love lobos,

I arrived safely in Vientiane last night and was picked up by the assistant principal of my school, a really nice Laotian man named Mr. Uthai.  In a true miracle, my luggage arrived with  me, which I didn't expect considering I was told in Toronto that my bag was 'lost.'  Today I woke up refreshed and was picked up by Ms. Bey, the head of Human Resources at my school.  Bey was great.  She is young, Vietnamese, and very talkative.  Besides doing official things like taking me to the school and having me sign the contract, she also showed me around the city a bit, helped me find a sim card, shampoo, currency exchange, and took me to a little coffee shop where her boyfriend works and bought me cake and coffee.  The school is very nice and everything is green and clean.  I saw my future classroom!

I'm currently staying in a small hotel near the school, where I guess I may stay for up to a month before I am sure about housing.  I'm the first (foreign) teacher to arrive and I guess there's a whole slew of us showing up; the second one comes tomorrow.  For the time being, I'm going to spend my days wandering around Vientiane. I hope to meet up with a man I met on the plane last night; he was the only Laotian person on the plane (it was filled with Koreans and me).  A very nice older man named Kong who has lived in the US for 20 years and was going to Laos to visit his sick mother.  He was happy to hear that I had chosen Laos to stay in, and he offered to help show me around and introduce me to his niece. 

My impressions so far?  I love it.  It's hot, slow, quiet, and relaxed.  The streets aren't murderous or dirty.  The people are kind and quick to smile and say hello.  There's beautiful buddhist-looking buildings everywhere.  The food is spicy and the beer is good.  Parts of it remind of of Uganda; the rogue dogs wandering around, the heat, the smell (a mixture of wonderful with a whiff of  horrible once in a while), but then it's also blessedly different.  It's quiet, the traffic is light and slow, and everything seems just a lot simpler than Kampala was.  People (for the most part) obey traffic rules and stop lights!  I can walk down or a sidewalk and cross the street with ease.  It's really a chilled and calm place, which I love.  Kampala gave me seizures and headaches and trauma.  I also can tell that there is less English spoken, which makes sense since English was an official language in Uganda- so I'm really going to need to learn some Laotian.  Another difference: there's internet!  And it works!  There's wifi in my hotel and at the school and I really think I'll be much more wired here than I ever was in Arua.  People here have the same smart phones that we do. 

Tonight I walked down to a Lao/Thai restaurant and ate one of the spiciest curries I had ever eaten along with a BeerLao (official beer of Laos).  The humidity and the spice led to me sweating freely and profusely into the evening air, and I breathed a sigh of relief as the sun started to sink and the air began to cool, and all felt good in my world.  I'm going to be a sweaty and happy person here, I think. 

Love and Laos,


  1. Ilse, So glad you arrived safely. Your classroom looks spectacular! I am looking forward to hearing all about your adventures both in and out of the classroom.

  2. Love and Laos is the new jam