Monday, 16 September 2013

Bangkok! Also I got sunburn.

Oh hiiii guys... or should I say sabaidee! That's one of the five words I know in Lao now. 

Actually I have finally started Lao lessons and I'm pleased to report they are going well so far. I'm on top of introductions, phrases to use at the markets, ways to avoid pesky tuk tuk drivers and I can also say that I'm from Australia and that I don't understand Lao. Tom has been doing lessons since he started work so he is way more advanced than I, although I did manage to offer our security guard some homemade brownies the other day and he actually understood what I said!

My main shortfall has been getting to grips with how tonal the language is. Seriously the word for 'I' and 'testicles' is essentially the same bar a slight inflection which means when I do try to speak Lao in the real world I'm constantly paranoid that I'm ordering my balls a coffee. Awks.

But, I'll get to Laos life in a later post - yes, I am really going to try and apply myself to this thing - for now let's riff a little about a trip we took to Bangkok recently last month...

God, I love Bangkok. It's so big and loud and dirty. A literal concrete jungle so crammed with traffic that it takes half an hour just to get around the corner in a cab. Refreshingly hectic, gigantic and full on compared to sleepy little Vientiane. As much as I like Laos and the novelty of living somewhere far removed from Western comforts, I have to say it's nice to get away and drown myself in consumerism. In Bangkok you can go to shops like H&M and Muji, watch a movie at the cinema, drink amazing cocktails at a rooftop bar 60 floors up, eat a Whopper at the airport (yeah it was awesome) and pay for all of this on a credit card. No cards (eftpos and cc) are accepted anywhere in Laos so paying by card has actually become a total novelty. A not-so-good novelty.

Beep beep, toot toot!

We stayed in a lovely hotel on a small soi off the main shopping drag in the city and I loved the little side streets in this area. Exploring this part of the city was new to us so it was fun wandering down pokey lanes and stumbling upon cool buildings and great food stalls. Some things we found:


Cementing my new-found status as a WAG (oh jesus) we took this trip because Tom's football team, the Lao Elephants, were playing in the AFL Asian Championships just outside of Bangkok. The football itself was actually pretty fun. I was expecting school sports day vibes but it was quite the set up with around 14 teams from across Asia (including China, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore) and it was held at a gorgeous polo club. The Elephants won a game which was awesome but sadly in the last game Tom pulled a 'hammy' and had to sit out :((((. He was hobbling for a week or so but doing much better now and he's even prepping for the next team trip to Cambodia. I also left game day with an injury... a crippling bout of sun burn. Ugh. I NEVER get sun burnt and so I guess this was punishment of 27 years of pretty careless slip, slop, slapping. It was not fun at all and now I understand what this horrible affliction is all about. I still have a terrible tan line on my shoulders to remind me. Noooo!

Game face. 
Look at this guy! So sweaty.

After game day Tom hobbled and I whinged-about-my-sunburn around Bangkok. We splashed out and had dinner at a Michelin Star restaurant Nahm which was amazing. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Way better than the airport Whopper.

Then for some reason, maybe to completely counteract the classiness of Nahm, we also decided to do some real touristy crap and got a double pass to an aquarium on the basement level of a mall and Madam Tussauds. I just wanted to figure out how they got freakin' sharks and stingrays through a shopping centre and underground but we ended up mostly dodging Thai school kids and Russian tourists. So many Russians, what's the deal with that?

How did you guys even GET HERE!? 
Madam Tussauds was full of Asian celebrities. But there were a few familiar faces.

Hat, cane and jacket: model's own.
Yep. This happened.

You guys, he's so much taller than I imagined!

Annnnd I have to end this post because Tom will probably murder me now. That's one of the reasons I'm skipping town this weekend and heading to BKK again with some girlfriends! Bye!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Waterfalls and Dumplings

Well, this thing really went downhill fast didn't it? But hey, we've been busy finding and moving into our new home, Tom has been mining mines, I've been doing a bit of freelance work and buying rugs, and things seem to take a long time to get done here. Like, the time it took three days and four different guys coming to the house to get our internet connected. Yeah. Serenity now.

We've also been trying to assimilate into the Vientiane expat social scene - which may or may not have involved furiously dancing to Backstreet's Back at a Fourth of July party... details are hazy.

So we have moved into our new house and it's niiiiiice. We are happy. And there is an amazing no-name noodle and rice place just down the road. Cue the latest addition to our hangover scrambled eggs: fried rice. I will do a housey post soon once we buy some furniture to make it look a little less crack-den-y as it's pretty much just a couch, TV and two (to die for) rugs at the moment. Did I mention the fact our street flooded the other day? Or the rugs? All in good time...

For now, I thought I'd riff a little about our recent weekend away in Luang Prabang, which was just what we needed to escape Vientiane for a bit. LP is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as in the whole city, woah! It's about 30min north by plane and is extremely beautiful and quaint and we split our four days there into equal parts drinking/eating and walking/sweating. It was lovely. I had a mini freak out when we discovered our hotel (The Apsara - highly recommended) features in the Hip Hotels: Orient book that I used to pour over at the gallery. Pretty exciting. So naturally I took about 1000 photos of the cute soap packaging:

I mean, it's parrots!!
Here are some photos from the walking/sweating/awesome palm tree portion of the holiday:

The first rule of Luang Prabang is... 
LP is where the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers meet. This is the NK.
We did venture out to the Kuang Si Waterfalls which were preeeeetty, preeeeetty, preeeeetty good. Although getting in a random van on the side of the road with ten other travelers and a driver who in hindsight was possibly pinging on a mix of Lao Lao and speed was maybe not the best idea. Cue an hour of everyone looking at each other nervously and gripping to seat backs as we careened around sharp mountain bends with horrible music blaring and the driver screaming into his phone in Lao. Driving off the side of a mountain in that van while listening to LMFAO on repeat would pretty much be the worst way to go. BUT it was all worth it when we arrived at the waterfalls.

Gorgeous hey? What they don't tell you is there are hundreds of little fish in there which bite you. As my dad would say 'that's how they get you!'. You may not know that one of my phobias is generic looking grey fish, so this kind of freaked me out and my dip in the waterfalls possibly wasn't as relaxed as it could have been. But eventually I stopped screaming every time a fish bit me and just went with it. Because sometimes you just need to let tiny fish gnaw on you and then have recurring nightmares about it later.

There was also a bear sanctuary which had rescued Asiatic Sun Bears in it. They were really cute, but then as we were leaving one of them was staring at me - I mean REALLY giving me the eye - and it made me feel quite uncomfortable. So I didn't take any photos of them. But I did take this shot of the 'educational bear wall' which isn't really to scale.

This is the only photo that Tom has actually ever asked me to take of him.
Then our driver tried to use us in his ploy to rip everyone else in the van off. We were having none of it - actually I thought that his winking at us as he told us the wrong price so we would 'go along with it' was him just being off his face - so you know we pretty much saved everyone (one Spanish lady) from paying 10,000kip extra (just over a dollar). Heroes of the van.

To conclude this post, which hasn't really offered any insight into how amazing LP actually is, here are some photos of the drinking/eating portion of the trip. Namely this alley way that runs off the night markets and is full of smokey street food stalls, we called it Meat Street because of all the meat skewers and dumplings we ate there. I truly think you know you've had a good holiday when by the end of it you have a 'guy', in New York it was 'Bagel Guy', Mykonos it was 'Spanikopita Yaiya' in LP it was our 'Dumpling Lady' and our 'Meat Guy'.

We made a friend <3
Oh hi tiny coconut pancakes in a little leaf basket. I love you. 
Dumpling Lady!
Meat Guy!
On our last morning we set our alarms super early to wake up and watch the procession of monks receive their alms - offerings from townspeople who get up every morning to hand out food to hundreds of monks. This collection forms the monks' daily meal and it was very moving to watch, even if we were a little hungover. It was completely silent except for a pack of dogs running up and down the street, humid and drizzling and we had to keep our distance and watch from across the road but it was a perfect way to finish our first trip to Luang Prabang.

We will pretty much be taking everyone who comes to visit us to LP, so look forward to meeting Meat Guy in the (sweaty) flesh. Ew. 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Previously on the Real Housewives of Laos...

Wow! What's been happening in Laos, hey? Like, soooo much!

Actually quite a lot, which has made me a little el-slacko on this thing. So, I thought I'd re-cap some highlights of the past week or so.

Afternoon tuk tuk-ing <3
House and car:
We have found both! Picking up our little Kia tomorrow and at the same time learning to drive in crazy Asian traffic and on the 'wrong' side of the road. Should be fun. Let's hope we don't die. Luckily for me I don't have my driver's license here yet so I have a few weeks of shirking driving responsibility. Unfortunately for Christoph he already has his Lao license so he will be navigating potholes while I pray to god we don't perish in a ten-car-and-scooter-pile-up-of-doom. Vientiane drift!

On the real estate front it looks like we have found a place that we like and doesn't have random babies or gaudy chandeliers in every room. We aren't getting our hopes up just yet as our first experience left us both pretty jaded about the whole getting a house thing, so we'll share more once we have actually moved in. After we've caught up on Game of Thrones. And Mad Men.

I unknowingly ate tripe thinking it was some kind of cabbage. My Lao friend said 'not vegetable' then pointed to her stomach :(
Port Hedland in Laos:
Imagine my surprise when I learned a few weeks before we left Australia that Port Hedland journalist Mark Scott was also moving to Vientiane. Weird or what!? Well Mark is here now and as those who are schooled in the ways of PH do, we got sufficiently sauced last weekend (did you know they sell towers of Beerlao here?) and ended letting some random tuk tuk driver take us to the local 'discotheque'. Upon arrival we realised we were at a full-blown Lao nightclub rubbing shoulders with Vientiane's clubbing elite (think Asian Jersey Shore). The weird thing was no one was dancing and the dance floor was filled with drinks tables that people just rearranged if they wanted space to dance. We migrated towards the only other white people who weren't gross old men and ended up partying with them and a group of very enthusiastic Vietnamese kids who every five minutes would make us all toast our drinks, yell 'hey' and then dance around the table in a conga line. It was really, really fun. Oh and we danced to Psy. And the Harlem Shake. What is happening to us??

We stumbled upon a Lao block party and watched a break dance battle. Amaze!
So our first Asian adventure is in the works for later this year - we are going to China! I'm a little nervous, I have a feeling I'm going to just walk around shaking my fist at everything and muttering 'China!!' under my breath. I also think I might buy too many knock-off handbags and get arrested coming back into Laos. Here's my China to-do list so far: eat dim sum everyday, also eat duck everyday, see a Panda, visit a flea market, find some cool art. If anyone has any suggestions of cool stuff to add to this - please let me know what to do and where to go. We will be going to Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Jam Fancy shrine on the street.
Tom has been playing football for the Lao Elephants and has signed up to go on a footy trip to Thailand to play teams from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, PNG, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam. He's representing Laos y'all! On a footy trip... to Thailand... oh brother!

I helped out with the install of an photography exhibition fundraiser and somehow ended up as MC for the night. It was veeeeery different from my old gallery but I had a fun time and met some really lovely people and bonus: I think we raised quite a bit of $$ for health and education programs for disadvantaged women and children in Laos. Good cause! I have also been contracted again to do some work for that advertising firm for the next few weeks so that will be keeping me busy until we move in at the end of this month.

Not-so lady of leisure. Wah!

Monday, 27 May 2013

One Night In... Udon Thani

We skipped town this weekend and took a road trip to Thailand with some friends. A very good move to put the total bummer that was last week behind us, we had a wicked time.

Just across the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge is a little town called Nong Khai, which we completely bypassed to head straight to the big smoke: Udon Thani! Not actually a very big smoke in the scheme of things but much more hustle and bustle than little old Vientiane. They have an actual shopping mall (!) with a Starbucks (!!), a cinema (!!!), clothes shops (!!!!) and McDonald's (!!!!!!). Yep, the first thing we all did once we checked into the neighbouring hotel was hoover some Big Macs and post-mix coke at the mall. Slave to the Mac.

Floral garlands at the night markets in Udon Thani.
Since there is a severe lack of actual supermarkets, cheap Kmart-esque shops and brand-name clothes stores in Vientiane, everyone (expats and Lao people alike) drives to Udon to stock up on cheaper groceries, electronics, clothes and homewares and carts it all back to Laos, not counting the hellish border crossing it's about a 1.5 hour drive. Since it was the first time in Udon for all of us we didn't really stock up on anything, but used the trip to suss out what's available and to shoot some hoops in the shopping centre's arcade.

We did manage to venture out of the mall and explore Saturday night in Udon Thani starting with the sprawling night markets where the guys tried unsuccessfully to barter for some Onitsuka Tigers, some drinks at possibly one of the only bars without the obligatory Thai bar girls, and ending with the tuk tuk ride of doom into Thai suburbia to check out a Mexican restaurant I found on Tripadvisor. Our poor driver got completely lost trying to find this place and we ended up on major freeways, down stray dog alleys and stopping every time he saw someone to ask directions. Needless to say we tipped him generously at the end of the journey. Then by the time we'd plied ourselves with cheap beers and melted cheese we couldn't get a tuk tuk back to the city since all the drivers were apparently getting drunk somewhere. Thankfully the owner of the bar rang his mate, who rang his mate, who convinced someone to pick us foolish falang up from the sticks.

A show off, out the back of our tuk tuk.
Coming from Australia, it really is a bizarre feeling being able to drive across a tiny bridge and boom - you're in another country! Not quite as simple as it sounds though. Before we left I put the word out to a few other expats to ask what we needed to do to cross the border. Everyone seemed to give conflicting answers starting from where to go, how much to pay to get across and most people just said they get their driver to do it all for them while they chill in the car...  and that was my first inkling that this might not be the smoothest of border crossings.

Christophersen 'minding the car' at the Lao border crossing.
The one thing we did know on arrival was that we definitely needed to stay in the far right lane, then as soon as we got there a customs officer directed us into a middle lane, we were told to park in the middle of the lane, holding up traffic, and get out to start the crossing process. This involved around 90 minutes of lining up at various booths spanning the length of the whole border gate, getting something stamped by one guy, then having to go line up to get the stamp signed off, then paying for the car at one booth, then paying for the passengers at another. There was no English signage so we just followed the vague hand gestures of the officers at each booth as to where we needed to go next. SERENITY NOW! Once this was over we got to the Thai side and thankfully it was smooth sailing. Although I 'minded the car' on this leg so perhaps sitting in air-con contributed to this.

Before we left a lady asked me to make step-by-step notes of the process to give to new expats. Now, if you know me at all you know that note making is my jam, so the fact that I got five minutes into this ordeal then couldn't track what the hell was going on is an indication of how crazy this shit actually was. Here are my notes:

Succinct, no?
I'm sure we'll have it down pat for next time. Yeah.

Until we arrived in Udon I didn't realise how much I was actually missing 'big city' life - and we weren't even in a big city. Not that I don't like Vientiane - I really, really do - but it was a breath of fresh air to be back in a busy city environment. I think I hear Bangkok calling...

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Ughhhh, Laos kicked our asses yesterday. Not so fun, especially not fun on Tom's birthday.

In the space of two hours we went from having a house and a car to having nothing. Brutal!

Our dream house that we'd found, got the lease, everything ticking along nicely, was snatched from us - Mekong views to Thailand and all - as the tenant has *just* decided he wants to stay in Laos and is willing to pay way more money than we can afford. Annoyance to the max. Can't really blame the guy though (hmm... yes, I can) because I wouldn't want to give the place up either. It was perfect. So, so perfect.

Too perfect apparently and that, I've been told, is just how things work over here.

Since we cancelled all our other real estate appointments when we found 'the one' two weeks ago, I now have to do the whole house-hunt rigmarole again. Thankfully, I was pre-warned about the dodgy real estate agents to stay away from so I'm really happy with ours.

In Laos rather that having one agent per house, each agency scouts all available houses and is able to show any of them to anyone. So you could see the same house over and over again through different agents - although the unwritten (or maybe it is written?) law is that whichever agent shows you the house first gets to keep the commission. I've only seen one house twice so far, and I felt all awkward and wasn't going to say anything when I had to look through it for a second time. But then the little old Lao lady who showed us around the first time came in and started pointing and smiling at me - she ratted me out. So I had to act dumb 'oh yeah... I thought this looked familiar... I've seen this one before...' yeesh!

Luckily during my first real estate encounter I wised up to a few things that I definitely do not want in our new place, well one thing in particular really: no rice paddies. I would literally be driven down kilometers of dirt road, to places I'm pretty sure would be considered 'rural Laos' to find one house in the middle of a rice field. Our agent would point over to a neighbouring field with a single house in it telling me 'expats live there - this is a big expat area', I'd squint over at the other house on the horizon trying to make out if it actually was a house at all, or maybe just a cluster of palm trees.

On a few occasions (with different agents) we'd go to a house that would be completely empty except for a couch or mattress with a lady and baby on it. Creepy. Usually at some point during the viewing there would be breast feeding. Creepy and awkward. It got to the point where the different agents would ask me 'what about the house with the baby?' and I'd get confused between all the babies in houses and not know which one they were talking about. Only in one instance was a family actually living in the house and had a baby with them, that house, after much explaining was 'the one with the baby'.

I have to admit I thought it would be a lot easier to find a place that we liked over here. Most of the houses I looked at with agents have been pretty OTT and impersonal - which is just the style over here: polished marble and gold accented staircases with bedrooms the size of our whole house back in Perth. I naively deleted all the photos from my viewings otherwise I'd post them here.

The beauty of the house we did find was it just felt like 'us' as soon as we walked in. Simple, probably small by expat standards, floorboards (big plus) and a tiny but beautiful jungle garden. Ok, so I'm not sure we'll find anything as gorgeous... but at this point I'm really just hoping we find a place that feels like a home to us. I have visited some really beautiful homes of people I know here... so there definitely is hope!

So, Round 2 of the Great Lao House Hunt *ding ding* hopefully less rice fields and babies.

And... long story short, we also got out bid on the car we were going to buy because we couldn't give a deposit of $2k in cash because we don't have a bank account over here yet. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Yeah. That also sucked, but there are plenty more cars in the... car yard? Parking lot? On the road? Note to self: always carry around thousands of dollars in cash when going second-hand car hunting in Laos.

To end this post on a positive note (phew!): we are taking our first road trip to Thailand this weekend which we are really excited about! Woo woo!

We will be driving over the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge into Nong Kai and then hitting up the 'big smoke' in Udon Thani. Because of the lack of actual supermarkets and department stores in Vientiane everyone, even the locals, will drive to Thailand to do their shopping in bulk at Tesco, Robinsons, Costco or one of the other giant super stores. So Tesco here we come! I reckon it will be a fun weekend with some fun peeps!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Stuff, Things

One of my new found friends in Laos has her own blog, a brilliant and much more professional effort than this random thing which I highly recommend you ch-check out for another look at expat life in Laos and travel tips for traipsing around other parts of South East Asia: Life Elsewhere. Friends with lil' juniors in particular will love it. This week she posted this entry which explores the notion of a life of effortless nomadic travel vs cherished worldly possessions.

Bon Voyage!
This made me think about our recent migration and what we chose to bring with us/keep in Perth. We've been living out of one shared suitcase for three weeks now, nearly four. To clarify, when I say 'shared' I mean around 25kg of miscellaneous Antonas clothes, shoes, all my favourite jewellery, undies, hair straightener, travel-sized hair dryer, my beauty case, a few 'in case I'm really bored' magazines, camera and film supply, oh and my toucan purse. All, in my view, necessities.

Luckily for Tom the three t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, undies and shaving kit that he packed fit snugly in the crevices around all my stuff (hey, he also brought a carry-on). Add to this a few months supply of toiletries/medicines/nurofen (oh nurofen!), a plastic bag of iPhone/iPad/laptop chargers and plug adapters en masse, Lonely Planet Laos and an assortment of yet-to-be-glanced-at Lao phrasebooks and that's our life until our shipping container arrives. Happy to report, so far we haven't been missing anything too much.*

Misc. items going on a sea voyage!
As part of our relocation we were given a 40ft shipping container to fill and a storage unit for whatever we didn't want to bring with us. My visions of the sinking Titanic quickly determined what was coming and staying:  I decided against bringing anything irreplaceable which meant no artwork, no vintage furniture and no decorative items (goodbye vintage pottery collection). The only exceptions to this rule were our collection of Mexican skulls, my Tjanpi woven goanna and one unstretched painting from Martumili, an Aboriginal art centre from the Pilbara. I'm confident these items will see me through potential Perth-sickness, Pilbara-sickness and the Mexico-sickness that's been plaguing me since we left in 2011.

One of the hardest parts about moving for me was leaving our art collection behind, but I know it's being looked after well by my parents and Mollie (yes, I have skyped my art, just to check in and say hi). This isn't so much the desire to have things hanging on our walls here to remind me of home, a certain artist or of my past life as a Gallery manager - but more the familiarity I have with each piece, a connection which I'm severing by not having them around. One piece in particular used to hang in our bedroom and each morning when I woke up it would be the first place I would look. Every morning I would look at this artwork and find something new to admire, a pattern or colour or brush movement that I'd never noticed before - just amazing. Knowing I won't be able to do that for another few years actually scares me a little. Although thinking about seeing this work again, potentially from a whole new perspective is genuinely exciting. And... as I keep telling myself, moving countries is definitely a valid excuse for us to start collecting new artworks.

Goanna <3
We did also bring our couch, tv/stereo and cabinet (left the record player behind), bed, linen, towels, computer and most of our study, my camera collection, Tom's bike, coffee machine and other kitchen appliances and assorted summer clothes. So when/if you decide to visit you will recognise a few things from home - although thankfully we have spare beds that come with the house so you won't have to crash on the couch. The comfiness of said beds is debatable (the beds here are SO HARD) but rest assured we will be investing in some sort of padding to minimise any risk of injury that might incur from sleeping on a prison cell floor-like surface.

I think it's enough home comforts to connect us to our former life but still nothing that makes me feel like our most cherished items are at the mercy of the sea and/or dodgy removalists. Our container has already traveled by sea from Perth to Ho Chi Minh and is now en route to Bangkok before arriving in Vientiane in a few weeks time. I'm hoping it arrives around the same time we move into our new place, fingers crossed!

* Ok, I lied. We are super excited about our Apple TV arriving. For the past few weeks it has been stockpiling episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones for us to mooch on our couch to as soon as we unpack. See, Lao life will pretty much be the same as Australian life, filled with Don Draper. No spoilers plz!!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Hmmm... my shower water turned brown the other day.

I was in the shower when the water pressure dropped off for a few seconds, then came back on. I thought nothing of it until I opened my eyes and noticed the floor of the shower had turned brown.  I jumped away from the shower head and IT HAD MURKY BROWN WATER COMING OUT OF IT AND IT WAS ALL OVER ME! Gross. Oh god, it was so gross.

Instead of just turning off the tap, I started panicking. Screaming from the shower - I was trapped between the spray and the wall - for Tom to come and help me. I'm not really sure what I expected him to do (bend the hose shut or wrench the whole shower fixture out of the wall maybe??) but by the time he got to the bathroom the clean water had kicked back in and my silent gagging in the corner was rendered kind of unwarranted. But still. Never. Drinking. Tap. Water. Ever.

This was my first real reminder that, oh yeah, we are now living in a developing country. This has been really, really easy to forget since we've had it pretty good for our first few weeks here, living in an apartment with a cleaning service, cable tv (with HBO... Asia) and a driver on call. Spoilt.

Plenty of locals who live in the city don't have access to running water in their homes and while most have electricity a lot don't have the luxury of air-conditioning, which is almost unthinkable when for eight months of the year the temperature is pushing 40c. Having the internet at home is still a relatively new opportunity for a lot of the Lao population and currently there's only one bank here that offers internet banking. Coca-cola has only just arrived in Vientiane to challenge Pepsi in the soft drink market and there is no sign of McDonald's, KFC, Burger King or the like. Although we did find a Chinese KFC spin-off called McconKey... interesting.

By contrast, there are a hell of a lot of brand new cars on the roads. Old cars are a pretty rare sight as most people cruise around in a giant Landcruiser or Hilux. I asked a local about this and she said some families will invest in new cars with the view that it will last for years, that their children and then grandchildren will all be able to use the car, passing it on to each generation. In some cases, the cars are purchased with the help of a bank loan - which have also recently been made available to the public. I can imagine this debt must stay with some of these families for years as well.

Really, the shower drama was nothing. Actually, we are pretty lucky that dirty shower water is the worst thing that's happened to us since we've arrived and I'm sure this isn't the only time it's going to happen over the next few years. I have already heard a few horror stories from other expats about snakes slithering into their bathrooms while they've been in the shower (!!), power going out for days at a time and elusive giant Lao rats living in roof cavities, keeping people awake all night with their rat parties.

I have no doubt we'll get a jolt of reality when we move into our own place and no longer have the daily housekeeping and driving service to which we've become accustomed. Not long to go until house times and to be honest I can't wait. This tiny apartment is starting to make me a little stir-crazy!

And oh... the power literally just went out, then kicked back in. No joke.