*Excuse typos and formatting. Written via panda phone on the (unpaved) road
Happy New Year’s Eve! We’re at the homestretch with only one day and one night left ahead of us.
We just hopped on the bus going back to Vientiane and I’m kind of sad. I completely fell in love with Vang Vieng. I didn’t have any ‘happy’ meals but everything else made up for it and more. I was able to soak up the beautiful landscape and breathtaking views up from the mountain tops. But best of all, I took an unforgettable stroll down mom’s memory lane.
Upon our arrival, the tuk-tuk picked us up and dropped us off in front of our hotel. My mom screeched and started laughing because she realized that directly across the street was where she went to primary school and learned how to play hoops. According to her, the school has not changed a bit. It was definitely old and in need of a paint job, but it works for them.
After settling in, we rented bicycles to head up to Tham Jung, the cave my mom went to every weekend as a child. She said she use to have to climb through shrubbery and use candlelight to go through the caves, but now there are clear paths and stoned steps to reach the cave that are well lit with stringing light bulbs.
After a few snapshots, we took a cruise down the main road and stopped at a random food stall. Two great things came out of this. Okay, three. 1.) Food, obvi. 2.) After chatting up with the vendor, we learned that the vendor’s daughter married one of my mom’s relative. She shares the same maiden name as my mother. Literally, small world. And 3.) Through the same conversation, my mom learned that her cousin still lived there and she owns a boutique shop one block away from where we were.
What were the odds? We scarfed down our food and rode our bikes down the short block to meet/reunite with my grandpa’s side of the family. Once we entered the doors of the small boutique, we were greeted with smiles – again, no hugs, just elbow grabs. Of course, the customary thing for them to do is feed us despite our protest and our eating just minutes prior. Before we knew it, they had neighboring vendors piling dishes of authentic Vang Vieng food on the living room table for us. Now, it’s rude not to eat something, so eat we did.
My mom’s cousin (unsure of her name, auntie?) is a little fireball. She was not afraid of words and she couldn’t sit down for longer than two minutes. She was very entertaining. After finishing our second dinner, auntie followed us back to our hotel on her bicycle to make sure we got home okay. I realized she knew everyone in the neighborhood even the lady running our hotel. We ended up sitting with her and having long conversations about…. who knows…. I don’t understand Lao. Anyway, it was nice to see that it was a very tight knit community and everyone is so friendly and open to help one another.
The next day for breakfast, we went back to the original food stall of my long lost relative. We found out she was talking about my mom last night to some other ladies who happen to be my mom’s classmates in primary school. And, you guessed it, we went down the block where they lived for a surprise visit. Thank God they did not feed us.
Check out some of the photos below of the old school and the old skool friends below.
Vang Vieng – K.I.T. and T.C.C.I.C.