Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Chinese food - no big deal, we have all been eating in Chinese restaurants for most of our lives! We wondered what it would be like: better? Worse? Too different for our tastes? or just give me some good old KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), which they love to eat here, to get me through our three weeks in China. Well, just like anywhere else, it depends where you eat. We have had some really great Chinese food and we have had some really mediocre Chinese food and we've even had some bad Chinese food. Either way, there are definitely some difference...

1. Rice will NOT come with your food. If you don't order rice, you won't get rice. When you get your rice it comes in a small bowl. You do not dump your rice onto a plate placing your Chinese food on top. Instead, you leave the rice in it's little bowl and slowly move individual pieces of your meat or vegatable into your rice bowl and eat from there. It's a little bit of a challange.

2. Bones will come with your food - and lots of them. The meat in your dish is most likely still attached to it's bone, however, it is still cut into bite size morsels which means that the bones are in lots of little pieces. Allow extra time to eat!

3. I've always thought that Chinese food in America is pretty salty. That is not the case here. You will often need to add salt or soy sauce to your dish. If you want salt, just make the gesture of holding a salt shaker in your hand and shaking salt onto your food and you will get the salt. If you want soy sauce, learn the Chinese word for soy sauce as we can't seem to make them understand what it is we want.

4. We have seen no dish call Egg Rolls. They have spring rolls here and they come in a meat variety and a vegtable variety but the two don't ever seem to mix the two of them.

5. Speaking of not mixing meat and vegtables, unlike at home where dishes usually have meat and vegtables both, here there are meat dishes and there are vegatable dishes but almost no mixed dishes of meat and vegtables. Maybe it's a Chinese thing like Jews don't mix milk and meat.

6. Soup or no soup. When ordering a noodle dish you need to decide whether or not you want the noodles in soup or just on a plate. All noodle dishes require that this decision be made clear to your wait person.

7. Fried rice at home is good (or not so good in some restaurants). Fried rice here is not good. It's filling but it's tasteless.

8. You get no fortune cookies at the end of the meal. They must export all the fortune cookies to foreign countries and therefore have none left to hand out here.

9. Each dish you order is prepared fresh and one at a time. This means in order to serve your food hot, they bring out dishes one at a time. There could easily be a 15minute difference between when you receive the first dish ordered until you receive the last. This also means that if you want to eat your food hot, that you end up eating your dishes one at a time.

10. They eat everything here: chicken, pork, beef, duck, snake, rat, dog...and every part of it. Therefore when you see street food or an item on the menu that reads "Mixed Meat" you have to make the decision of whether TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Cycle of Talking

When we started our trip it was easier to get along with each other. Now, six and a half months out, we crane our heads over the crowd to look for people to talk to other than each other. That's okay, it works!! The only problem is, when we can't find someone that's open to talk to, it results in.......................constantly being bored with each other.

Every morning, I wake up and see Avocet sleeping in the same bed or in the bed right next to me. If she's awake, (most of the time she wakes up before me) we play with Seelia and Fuzzy or our dolls. Then Mom and Dad will come in to say good morning. We go out together, talk together, and see each other, EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! Seeing each other everyday results in more arguments, annoyance, calling each other names, frustration, etc., etc., etc.,.

Whenever we hear someone speaking English, we POUNCE!! I mean we don't literally, "pounce on them," we just go up to them and start talking. The good thing about this is that we now know a lot more travellers that are doing the same thing as us. The bad thing is that when we have apartments, we go crazy, as there is only our family staying at the apartment and no one to talk to but ourselves and the wall. The whole thing is just one, huge, endless cycle!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Once we set up our itinerary and realized that we would be in China for the duration of Hanukkah, we pretty much gave up on the idea of any type of celebration. That was until I ran into two Israeli travelers at the acupuncturist who told me that there was a bar in town owned by an Israeli. I soon left to check out this story and sure enough, there is a bar in Yangshuo, China, The Alley, owned by 2 Israelis and a Chinese. Oren, Israeli #1 told us that they would be lighting Hanukkah candles at 8:00 PM. We all returned for a candle lighting on a menorah made out of beer bottle caps. It wasn't the prettiest menorah we've ever seen but it will certainly be one of the most memorable Hanukkah celebrations we will ever have. Oren, thank you for making Hanukkah 2008 one to remember.

Since Hanukkah is typically oriented towards children, Marty and I receive no presents at this time of year. Avocet and Siena, however, usually receive one present per night for 7 of the 8 nights of the holiday. On one night, they receive no present but instead, we all give a present to someone whose need is greater than ours. Given the gift that we all have of taking this one year trip around the world, we decided that all 8 nights of Hanukkah this year should be dedicated to giving to others. Based on our travels, we have chosen the following organizations for our donations.

Night 1. Tibetan Children's' Village (TCV) - A school and home for orphaned and refugee Tibetan people for the purpose of education, care and survival of the Tibetan culture.

Night 2. Elephant Nature Park - Provides a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants in Thailand.

Night 3. Malaria Foundation International - Supports awareness, education, training, research and leadership programs for the immediate and long term development and application of tools to combat malaria.

Night 4. The Hunger Project/India - An organization committed to the sustainable end of hunger in India. It seeks to end hunger and poverty by empowering people to lead lives of self reliance, meet their own basic needs and build better lives for their children.

Night 5. Dalai Lama Foundation - An organization that promotes world peace and is working for a free Tibet.

Night 6. Lao UXO (Unexploded Ordnance Program) - An organization created to reduce the number of casualties caused by unexploded ordnances (bombs and land mines), and increase the amount of land available for food production and other socio-economic development activities.

Night 7. Nightlight/Bangkok - To meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of women in prostitution and their children, by building relationships and providing a center that offers emergency aid, educational and employment opportunity, emergency child-care, language tutoring, literacy training, and biblical teaching and healing for their community.

Night 8. Spring Bud Plan - Due to uneven social and cultural development in China, there are a large number of illiterate children, predominately girls. Spring Bud Plan assists girls of poor areas of China to return to school.

It's a strange way of looking at it, but we have been blessed to have had the opportunity to see misery and heartache in the world. We hope that our decisions will make a difference. Change can occur one small step at a time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


The Li River is famous. Go into any Chinese restaurant in America and you will see a painting where a lonely little river runs through pointy rock formations. It's right beside the fish tank and the little red lanterns for sale. That's the Li River. Kidding aside, this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It's outer worldly. I have difficulty using words to describe it. You have to have a better camera than mine to properly showcase it. Simply breath taking.

We rode on the bus to Yangdi with our trusted Chinese guide Feng Ping. She was quite adept at English and we were helped into buses, boats, etc. without worrying that we were taking the wrong road, wrong river, etc. The river itself was calm but had a lot of activity. Big tourist boats from Guilin plied the waters, accompanied by smaller fishing boats. Our small craft was illegal on the waters being that only the large "ships" out of Guilin are allowed to carry tourists - the government collects large tax dollars from these businesses and not from the local fisherman. We had to stop at a stone beach partway in order to wait for the authorities to leave a section of the river before we moved on. Follow the money. Even in China!!

These "karst" or limestone peaks sometimes go directly up three hundred meters. They are partially covered in vegetation and their stone faces "peak" through. They don't just follow the water but go for many kilometers in all directions. The scenery is noted to be especially beautiful on the river from Yangdi to Xingping, our drop off point. One pretty view is so nice it's on the back of China's 20 yuan note.

Now when I eat my Kung Pao Chicken at Happy Garden (or any other Chinese restaurant) and glance at the paintings, I can think about the great afternoon we spent on the Li River.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


When we were in Thailand, Marty and I were joking that our image of China was that it was gray and dismal. This image, of course, was derived from a period in time when China was closed off to the outside world and the portrayal that the US government gave of "Big Bad China" was bleak. Thank God that was just government propaganda and it wasn't really going to be that way.

So here we are in Yangshuo, freezing our butts off in the gray and dismal land of China. We left 90 degree and balmy Bangkok and arrived in Guilin where we had to promptly don our jackets. It's OK; it's night time; it will be better in the morning, right? - NOT! We awoke to unusually cold (freezing) temperatures, wind and gray skies. We transferred to Yangshuo where we will be staying the next two weeks but unfortunately, it's not any better here. Everyone keeps telling us how just last week it was warm and spring like (which it is suppose to be) but that doesn't do us a bit of good since we are here this week (and next) and it's cold! We are not physically nor mentally prepared for this and don't have the proper attire. We were going to southern China to stay out of the cold, not to be in it!

Yangshuo is a city of about 300,000 people. It is in the region that is known for it's karst formations - limestone hills that dot the landscape for about 1000 km. in Southern China. These karst formations are famous throughout China and are featured in many Chinese paintings. Because of Yangshuo's natural beauty, it is a popular tourist destination for the Chinese. Many westerners find their way to Yangshuo as well. It is a very picturesque city.

We have lovely accommodations here complete with a western flush toilet (versus a squat toilet which is standard throughout China) and heat, which even most homes in this area do not have. All of these will make our two week stay here much more comfortable. Shops and restaurants also typically don't have heat but many (not all) restaurants will set up charcoal pits next to the tables to make it warmer. It has become one of our criteria of whether or not we will eat at a particular restaurant.

Yangshuo is not big and gliltzy like Bejing or Shanghi nor is it rural China. It's in between the two and would be just perfect, if someone would just return the sun.

Friday, December 26, 2008


We surveyed the four participants of the One World One Trip team for their Top Ten (Plus Two) of Thailand and the results are in:

12. Salakaewkoo - Nong Khai's Sculpture Park
11. Baan Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai
10. Flight of the Gibbon
9. The Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok
8. Lumphini Park in Bangkok
7. Tadkham Village Guesthouse in Chiang Mai
6. Our Thai and Foot Massages
5. Loy Kathong Festival in Chiang Mai
4. Baan Bakery in Chiang Mai
3. Elephant Nature Park
2. Siena and Avocet's 10th birthday celebration in Chiang Mai


1. Mut Mee Guesthouse of Nong Khai and the wonderful friends we met there

Results of this country's survey were tabulated by Marty

Thursday, December 25, 2008


For the second time on this trip we had the opportunity to see an International Street Performers Festival. The first was at Rynek Glowny, Krakow Poland's beautiful central square. This one was held in Lumphini Park, about a forty minute walk from our hotel. We stayed for about three hours and saw break dancers who “said” they were from New York, a juggler from New Zealand, a Thai person who could blow darts to break balloons and ride a bike only twelve inches high, etc, and finally a funny Japanese lady who performed a cool comedy mime routine. When the crowd grew large, the sponsors sold "periscopes" so people could see over the people in front of them.

This is also our first attempt at placing a video on the blog by way of YouTube. I credit my friend Erwan from Paris who instructed me how to do it. Thanks, Erwan!!! Enjoy.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Westin Grande And The Joe Louis Theatre

On the first day of our four day stay in Bangkok, we didn't want to go out. Dad, while reading Mom's notes on Bangkok, started wondering whether going to Tea would be a good idea. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel was way too expensive and so were many others. Mom happened to stumble across an ad in the Bangkok Post for the Westin Grande Hotel,saying that there was to be a special Tea from December 17th to the 4th of January. We looked into it a little further, and Voila!!, a reasonably priced tea on the 7th floor at a very fancy hotel in Bangkok. And we were going that afternoon.

The Westin Grande was VEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYY fancy!!! The lobby (inside) had water in ponds that would flow under glass walls to the outside. The "Tea Room" was called the Zest Piano Bar, and had large slanted glass windows on both sides of the room. A huge glass lamp on the wall hung over a bar that changed colors every few seconds.

We ordered two Festive Tea sets, including pastries, tea sandwiches and several different spreads. Also, and most importantly, Vanilla Ceylon and English Breakfast Tea. It was all VEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYY tasty, and we got good photos!!!

Afterwards, we headed to the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre. We headed past Lumpini Park (see Bangkok - The Sleepless City) to the night market and then onward to the theatre itself. The theatre was created for a man nicknamed Joe Louis who was committed to the puppets. The puppets of Thailand are a dying art, and this man loved them. He started making the puppets for his own satisfaction, and then for the satisfaction of his audiences. His children and grandchildren are all taught traditional Thai dance and the way to control the puppets. The show, The Birth of Ganesh, was about the birth of Ganesh with characters from the Ramayana, a traditional Southeast Asian theatrical dance. In the Hindu religion, the mother of Ganesh is Parvati, Shiva's wife. In the show, his mother was Uma, wife of Isuan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Toward the end of our stay in Nong Khai I wasn't feeling all that well. I took some medicine that I carry with me but I didn't seem to be feeling better. Upon arriving in Bangkok, I decided to go to the doctor – mostly because I figured this would be a better move than waiting until we went to China which was only 5 days later. According to my research as well as upon the recommendation of our hotel, I went to the Bumrungrad Hospital where I was told I would find an English speaking doctor.

I found more than an English speaking doctor. I found an international hospital that was like a five star hotel! Upon entering, a person immediately greets you in English and inquires as to your needs. I was sent to the 10th floor where I was again greeted by an English speaking person who directed me to registration. Using state of the art computer equipment, I was rapidly registered and told which floor to which to proceed. Passing by the Starbucks (which I was tempted to stop in but didn't), I went to the 16th floor and waited to see the doctor. In the waiting area you could hear languages from all over the world as people come here from everywhere to receive first class medical treatment – sometimes at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost in their own country. I had heard about this on NPR, but now I was seeing it first hand.

The doctor I saw spoke English very well and was a good humored person. My lab test came out negative and he just felt that I needed to give the antibiotic treatment that I was using a little more time. Hearing that I was leaving soon and heading to China, he prescribed an alternative antibiotic for me to carry just in case I didn't feel better within a week. For his time, I was charged 500 Baht ($14.08 US), a facility fee of 200 Baht ($5.63 US) and a lab fee of 200 Baht (also $5.63 US). This was less than my health insurance co-pay at home and all at a first class medical facility.

Before leaving the hospital, I stopped in Au Bon Pain on the first floor to pick up some desperately needed “American Style” chocolate chip cookies for the family. As I looked around, it was clear to me that this would be the ideal place to have a future medical procedure performed. And recuperating in Thailand after the procedure wouldn't be too bad either!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Our abode in Bangkok is the Atlanta Hotel, a “venerable” institution, dating from 1952. lisa found this place on the www when she was frustrated that all hotels in Bangkok were either $200 US per night or cheap and hovel-like. I had the same experience in Delhi. Nice and expensive or cheap and bad!! The Atlanta was nice AND cheap. And has a history and a mission.

The hotel makes a statement at the front door “SEX TOURISTS NOT WELCOME”. At every corner we read that you can't take “new PAID FOR girlfriend” here. You will get kicked out. Even Siena and Avocet noticed the large number of older Western men with young Thai women (girls sometimes) throughout Thailand. The Atlanta wears its mission on its sleeve.

The history of this place includes having the first hotel swimming pool in Thailand (and quite nice), a restaurant that serves food using 1950's recipes and a lobby that has been in more movies than any other lobby in Thailand. It's unique in that everything you need to know about the hotel and Bangkok is explained in voluminous detail by the owner, a Dr. Henn. Pictures of its history are all over the walls.

Nothing much has changed for fifty years. The rooms are 1950's style; spartan, but with the materials of the past: nice terracotta concrete floors, beautiful teak wood used in a reading room and, I understand, most of the same bathroom fixtures, repaired instead of being replaced. I read on one of the literature boards in the lobby that General William Westmoreland, famous (infamous, really) for being “in charge” of the US involvement in Vietnam, stayed in what are now rooms A-5 and A-6. We stayed there! Who knows what strategies were wrung out behind these closed doors. Today it's much simpler with the girls playing Webkinz on the laptop using a very nice wireless signal. How things have changed!!

We would all like to thank Roger of the Atlanta for helping us along our journey. He has been communicating with lisa for over a year and helped us on numerous occasions: helping us book train tickets to Chiang Mai while we were still in Italy and for assuring us that Bangkok was still a good place to bring your family after the airport takeover and the protests that followed. We enjoyed having good conversations with you about travels and the City of Bangkok. LONG LIVE THE ATLANTA!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bangkok - The sleepless city

Bangkok - it's a glitzy city that never sleeps and is home to about a billion traffic police, (there's a LOT of traffic!!) and all the pretty ladies in high heeled shoes. It is also our five day, last stop in Thailand, before we move on to Guilin, China. Bangkok's really touristed but when you think about it, there are not many famous tourist sites to see in Bangkok except for a couple of Wats and the Grande Palace; but we did more things than just that.

To escape from the noisy streets of Bangkok, I suggest you go to Lumphini Park. Lumphini Park is just like any other park in the U.S. except that there are these crocodile looking reptiles that walk all over the grass. You can also rent a paddle boat and steer yourself around a small lake. This park is a perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself!!!

If you are interested in looking at Wats, then you sure will like Wat Arun and Wat Pho!! In the old city, Wat Arun and Wat Pho are two of the three Wats that you definitely want to see. Wat Arun is entirely decorated with broken China and is pretty amazing!! (it's just like saying, "I made a stupa out of my broken tea set!") CAUTION! The steps to walk up are VERY steep. Wat Pho is home to the largest reclining Buddha in the Kingdom of Thailand - literally!! The Buddha's about as long as 5 school buses, and about the width of one too!! He has really awesome feet, as they have designs out of black paint on them. I said Wat Pho and Wat Arun were two of the three major Wats to see and the third one is located in the Grande Palace.

The Grande Palace looks exactly like a street in Disney World. It has perfectly manicured lawns, trees, shrubs, and topiaries (except that the topiaries are not of Disney characters!). The Royal Wat (which is also home to the famous “Emerald” Buddha) is probably my favorite Wat in Thailand. The different stupas that all make up the temple complex are located on a stone terrace. They are all beautifully carved with gods, demons, and decorated with pieces of colourful Japanese glass. The main Wat is home to the “Emerald” Buddha. It's not really emerald but when people first discovered it, they thought it was. It's really jade. The Grande Palace itself was okay but the grounds were pretty elaborate!!!!!

Bangkok has lots of sky-scrapers and tall hotels. We went to the top of the tallest in all of Thailand - The Baiyoke Sky Hotel II. There are 84 floors. Three of them are dedicated to looking out over Bangkok at the highest point. 81 is a museum like area with scenes to take your picture in. 83 is a bar where you can get alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. 84 is a revolving observation deck from which you can view Bangkok. Very amazing!!!!

Bangkok has lots of forms of transportation. To get around inside the city, you can take a meter-taxi, tuk-tuk, or sky train. The sky train is like a subway but up in the sky. For going outside the city and beyond, you can take a bus, train, or plane. Since Old Bangkok is built on water, another form of transportation is a water taxi. Sometimes if you walk into a hotel, you will smell a putrid, dirty, water smell.

As I said in the title, it is true that Bangkok never sleeps. It is most lively at night and is most crowded at night. The traffic is worse at night too. The best place to hang out at night is one of the many night markets. If you are interested in seeing a traditional Thai puppet show with traditional Thai puppets, then go to the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre.

Overall, Bangkok is a pretty nice, crazy, city!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


We arrived in Nong Khai on December 9th and one week later it was time to leave. No big thing,we've done this many, many times before. So why was it so difficult to leave this time? Nong Khai was a nice city with lovely people, but it wasn't Nong Khai that was tough to leave, it was Mut Mee Guesthouse.

This place was different from any other place that we have stayed. It wasn't an accommodation, it was like a "summer" camp. Here in the common garden, we ate together, played together, socialized with each other and shared information. Not just our family, but everyone who was there. Age didn't matter, young interacted with old; background didn't matter, the French interacted with the Australians; marital status didn't matter, the singles fit right in with the families.

After reading our blog one day, our friend Dianna commented "Do you just ever take a week off to totally zone out, watch TV, or just do nothing?" Well Dianna, we didn't have a TV, or radio, or CD player...but we sure "zoned" out - all week!

We met so many wonderful people at Mut Mee, some with whom we had extended conversations with over multiple days; with others, it was in passing while waiting for a meal. These are just a few of the many people that made our week at Mut Mee memorable.

Charlotte and Erwan from Paris who left it all behind to travel for a year. Our paths will cross over 3 airports as we enter/exit the same city on the same day in Sydney, Auckland & Papeete. Hope we meet up with you somewhere!

Leslie and Dino from Ann Arbor, MI who we met in Luang Prabang and then again in Vientiane and yet again at Mut Mee (were you guys stalking us?).

Vince, Petra, Annouk and Norgca from Holland who have been on the road for 3 months now with their 5 and 3 year old daughters and were heading to New Zealand to see if they might like to settle down there.

Ben from NY/CA who is in Nong Khai to create a community garden and a healing center.

Cara, from Montreal, who after finally admitting she didn't like her job, fired herself, and took off to travel by herself. Hope to see you in New Zealand!

John and Shirley from Greece. They left it all behind in England to an old stone cottage on the island of Lefkada 7 years ago. They were out doing Thailand and Laos for 2 months.

Marta, Luis, Lucille and Carola from Spain. A lovely family who arrived the day we were leaving. How very sad. They quit their jobs and are doing an around the world with their 4 and 7 year old daughters. Hope to meet up with you in Sydney!

Thanks to each and every one of you who helped nourish our souls.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


As lisa reported in her post "Mut Mee Guest House", Nong Khai is a working Thai city, with just a few things for tourists to do. One that we couldn't miss is Salakaewkoo, the sculpture park six km. outside the city. Here was our day's adventure:

We rented bikes in two different places because most rental places do not have kids bikes. After almost striking out a woman says we can take her daughter's bike for the day. How nice of her. The Thai (and Lao) people seem to go out of their way to help you, even if it doesn't pad their pockets. A second kid's bike couldn't be found but Siena was happy to ride on the back of mine. Thai adult bikes have seats above the back wheel for another rider so it worked well, kinda like riding on a scooter. We used our map and promptly got lost. Only with the help of a young Thai man/boy on a scooter were we able to find our way. We kept thanking him (Krop Kun Krop), and he pointed to his sleeve which said "Rescue 50";. Rescueing people is what he did!!

Arrival at the park takes your breath away. Concrete sculptures, some more than seven stories high, grace the grounds. They are a mix of Hindu and Buddhist, with a particular leaning to Buddha statues. A huge one of seven snakes with 10-15 foot long tongues is especially cool. These statues began when the sculptor bought the land after being removed from Laos in 1978. He built his first sculpture park near Vientiane on the Laos side of the Mekong River. The place also had a series of lakes which contained giant catfish. These monsters were about three feet long. I would die of fright if I fell in and had these guys start to swarm on me. Yikes!!!

The most important sculpture in the park is the Wheel of Life which covers life from conception to death with additions of the Buddhist six senses and components of our lives such as Prayer, Democracy, Business, Begging, Poverty. Death and dying is represented by your funeral and a man and woman walking outside the Circle of Life following Buddha to Nirvana.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Typically when one travels, you pick your destination and then you find an accommodation at that destination where you desire to stay. We have followed this "formula" for our entire trip with the exception of this one. We came to Nong Khai because that is where the Mut Mee Guesthouse is located.

When researching Southeast Asia trying to decide where we wanted to go, I came across the website for Mut Mee. I immediately decided that I wanted to stay there. There were a couple of things to do in Nong Khai that were of interest, but basically, I wanted to go there so I could stay at Mut Mee. So finally, after a two year wait, here we are.

Mut Mee is not a luxurious place. In fact, it is probably the most rustic place that we have stayed in so far. The rooms are simple and the walls are so thin that we can hear every sound coming from the rooms upstairs and next door. You even have to pour water into your toilet in order to create a "flush" and where tiny ants hang out in your bathroom. So you ask, "What's so special about this place?" It's about the serenity of a garden on the banks of the Mekong. It's about being in a real Thai town that sees very little in the way of tourists. But mostly it's about the community of people who gather here on their way North into Laos or South into Thailand.

While we planned from the beginning to stay here a week, that is the exception vs. the rule. Most people check in for just a night or two but then seem to never leave. The Irish guy at the table next to us came for a night and 4 days later is still here. The Australian at our breakfast table was leaving for Laos this morning but by 11:00 said, "I guess I'll leave tomorrow." The place is very seductive. The garden tables are perpetually filled with people regardless of the time of day. People are talking, playing cards, reading, eating, drinking, painting... Occasionally people leave to go to see a site in Nong Khai (there are a few) or nearby, but mostly people are just hangin. You talk to everyone and one person's life and travels are as interesting as the next. Many people out there think that our family traveling around the world is an unusual adventure ,but here, it's just another adventure, nothing terribly unique, for everyone who passes through here is having an adventure of their own.

Tomorrow we will rent a car and drive 70 km to a historical park that is suppose to be incredible. Yesterday we were at a sculpture park that was amazing. But today, like everybody else, were just a-hangin!