Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Laos - May - July 2008

Hope you are all doing well. Kathy and I chat about you often and welcome any news we get from you. Evie also misses you sometimes but Ben is firmly living moment to moment.

It's still wet season here so about half the days are mostly overcast and temps around 20's which is pretty cool for here. We get periods where the tropical storms roll in for the evening or afternoons which are fun to watch from inside. Not so fun to be caught out in though we have had a few trips home in the rain in Tuk Tuk's (not water proof) singing rousing renditions of "row row row your Tuk Tuk gently down the road..... Not sure what the Tuk Tuk drivers think of it. Guess they figure we are weird falangs (foreigners) and it must be normal wherever we come from.

Kids are doing well. Ben had an early second birthday party with various friends of his and ours which went really well. Lots of presents, games, balloons, friends and cake - all a child could ask for (and most adults too). Ben is very proud of his new Spiderman outfit and likes singing "Spiderman Spiderman boy" (meaning he is Spiderman). He also loves the giant water and air filled seahorse that he alternately punches kicks and then hugs and kisses.

Ben has taken after Evie in the chattering department and between them they provide an endless and sometimes funny commentary on the world and what they think of it. Typical comments from Ben if we're out and about include - Truck, Big Bus, Motorbike, Tractor, Buddha, Monks - gives you a reasonable run down of a street scene in Laos. One of our friends said she liked the way Evie spoke and could listen to her talk all day - Kathy suggested that if she came over to our place for day her wish would be granted. On the bright side the kids play together well most of the time and one of the favourite games together is hide and seek - if Steve is involved they can hide for a long time while he is reading his book.

On the health front we discovered that Evie had worms (hookworm) - probably helps explain why she weighs 17 kilos now and was 18 kilos when we left Australia 15 months ago. Amazingly we read that about a quarter of the people in the world have this type of worm - no wonder they are all so slim over here. Having got rid of the worms Evie's tummy is rapidly growing back towards former proportions. We try to go swimming as often as we can and the kids both love the water - Evie likes doing somersaults under the water and jumping off dad's shoulders and Ben happily paddles round with his floaties.

We have a story and singing time here for little expat kids each Friday and it has developed into a good core group of around a dozen kids plus parents. It's a fun way to spend a Friday arvo with some socialising and some hamming it up for the kids. The people who come are Australian, English, Belgium, Danish, Canadian and a Japanese lady with 15 month old triplets and two nanny's.

We are really enjoying our garden and were thrilled to find an avocado tree a few months ago. The avocados are big now and we have eaten quite a few and given some away. Pretty fresh tasting!!!

We had Rob (Steve’s share trading friend/partner) and Robyne (Rob's real partner) come stay with us for 4 days which was great. Nothing like hanging out with friends you have a history with. They had some of the more difficult names for Lao people to pronounce so mostly ended up being Lob and Lobbin to the locals. This was pretty appropriate given Wimbledon was on and we were watching the silent version on TV (at the moment for some random reason no sound on satellite TV so we provide our own special comments). Highlights of their stay included dinner at French restaurant and they really enjoyed the luxurious $6 massages at the spa round the corner from our place.

We also had some high culture expat style attending the Vientiane Ball. This involved Steve getting a suit made and Kathy getting frocked up via a dress sent from Australia then a dinner and dancing to a surprising good Lao band playing Western covers. Kind of similar to going out dinner then the pub in Australia, apart from everyone being dressed up. Was great to get out there and have fun dancing, drinking and laughing.

We are off for a holiday to near Krabi (Raillay a beach in Southern Thailand near where they filmed "The Beach") on July 12. After 2 weeks there fly out of KL in Malaysia to visit family and friends in the UK for 4 weeks. It's about half the cost to fly from here than from Melbourne which does make a big difference, especially as Ben will be 2 very soon so pays mostly full fare. Very much looking forward to spending time with everyone in the UK. Steve's share trading will be minimised as the time difference in the UK is pretty brutal but as the market is pretty brutal anyway it's probably not a bad time to sit it out.

We have put a few photos into another post.

- Some Ben Birthday photos
- Some interested aspects of Tuk Tuks – high tech with fan, speaker and one tuk tuk pushing the one we were in with it’s front wheel due to running out of petrol
- With local children on the front veranda

Enjoy the pictures and please email.

Steve Kathy Evie and Ben