Saturday, January 10, 2015

All Good Things, Including Vacations, Must Come to an End.

I loved Luang Prabang and hope to go back.   After a tuk tuk ride to the airport (for which I paid the same price as my ride from the airport in an air conditioned van) was fine, although there were six of us Western sized folks and the motorcycle struggled mightily getting up the hills.  Ironic that as we were discussing where we were from I found three of the other passengers are also teachers in Myanmar - they teach in Yangon.

After LP, I headed to Bangkok for more relaxing and eating.  Let's face it, I don't really travel, I just graze.  No photos from Bangkok.  I stayed at the hotel where I usually stay, ate where I usually eat and grocery shopped where I usually shop.  I mostly went for walks and took advantage of cable tv and fast internet.  Yes, I'm a slug, but a happy one.

It was an easy flight back to Myanmar and the afternoon weather was perfect - sunny and in the 80's. Arriving back home was easier because of the very friendly greeting of the immigration officers.  "Ah, my friend!  It is so good to have you back!"  Bet you've never heard that from a U.S. immigration officer.

Rather than wait for the other arriving teachers, I sprung for a taxi, since I was the first one through customs and the others weren't even in the long line yet.  A good choice, since they arrived over 2 hours after I did.  I went to my apartment, dropped off my junk and headed back out in the taxi to go food shopping.

Halfway there I realized I hadn't grabbed any more Myanmar money (Kyat, pronounced Chought).  I only had $25 worth with me but figured I'd just get a few items.   Silly me, I'd forgotten Myanmar prices.  I bought a large basket of of goodies at the market (carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, avocados, fresh prawns, onions, potatoes, green beans) then stopped at Chicken King to pick up a kilo of frozen chicken.  Chicken King, by the way, is actually a cell phone store which has a single freezer filled with chicken.  On the way back to school I also stopped for a bottle of Myanmar rum.  I came home with $15 left.

The prices weren't the only great part of my homecoming shopping.  The main thing was the greetings I got from the vendors.  Some saw me coming (I'm not hard to miss in Myanmar) and I saw them gesturing and yelling to their friends.  Lots of smiles and gesturing on both sides, since we were happy to see each other and they don't speak English and I don't speak Myanmar.

Back home, I got unpacked and settled in.  One teacher brought me parchment paper from the U.S. (we both like to bake) and another teacher brought a pair of sandals from Canada (we'd had a casual conversation about the challenge of buying shoes for Western sized feet).  Both were such thoughtful gifts and so appreciated.

I cooked up the prawns in a butter/chili/garlic sauce for dinner.  I enjoyed being back in my own home.  And in the middle of the night I listened to the faint sound of drumming coming from a nearby monastery.  Tomorrow I'll have to ask my local friends what the occasion was.  Yup, great vacation but good to be home.

Now, if Myanmar internet allows, here are some photos of my last day in Luang Prabang.
Another lunch, another great view of the Mekong river.

This was a small place, with a few tables and one middle-aged woman doing all the cooking and serving.  I went for the most expensive item on the menu.  Hey, I'm on vacation - who cares if it's 20,000 Kip.  Which is about $2.50.  Great food and a view!

Condiments for the omelette were (L to R) fresh lime, a sweet/salty dipping sauce and crushed peanuts.  The cook didn't speak enough English to tell me what was in the dipping sauce which is a shame because it was delicious.  I'm going to experiment by mixing some oyster sauce, sugar and rice vinegar.  I've never considered adding these items to an omelette but will be doing it from now on.  It transformed the meal.

A very hearty portion, filled with local greens (morning glory, sprouts, etc.) along with a bit of the local sausage.  Delicious.

One of the hotel uses these classic cars to pick guests up at the airport.  Rooms there cost about six times what I paid for a very pleasant hotel room.

Many of the hotels provide bicycles for guests.  These just happened to be made of bamboo.

Luang Prabang sausages, drying on the sidewalk.

My dinner, almost every night, came from the little barbecue stand next door.  My favorites - eggplant, green onions, squid, chicken and mushrooms.  About $3.00 for all this deliciousness which came with a fantastic lime, sugar and red chili dipping sauce.

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