Venturing in Vientiane

We are well overdue an update! With travel to Laos, intense work schedules, the major exciting launch of “How Does on Dress to buy Dragonfruit?” and that double bout of bronchitis has resulted in a gentle lull here. A few shorter posts are in the pipeline, and here is the first.  A few glimpses of my recent visit to Vientiane.

With storm warnings and alerts of likely flight delays, I decided to leave Yangon on an earlier flight than originally planned. Having been held above angry, sparky clouds on my previous flight into Bangkok, I opted to take a flight with a nice long connecting time and marginally less likely to be stormy.  Afternoons tend to see the skies darken dramatically, and I would rather be on the ground for that, thank you!

As luck would have it, the morning flight was blessed with sunny skies and very little turbulence and no delays. We rose up into the clouds over clear view of Yangon including Inya Lake, the winding river and in the distance the sun catching Shwe Dagon.

Leaving Yangon

Leaving Yangon

 

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The sun shining on Shwe Dagon

My waiting time in Suvanibhumi airport was thus maximised. I have no problem killing time there, especially with the peaceful massage room and had a relaxing foot massage.  In the departure lounge there were warm reunions with colleagues from the broader Asia region who were also travelling to Vientiane for the meeting before a late evening arrival in Vientiane.  A long day for what was actually a very short journey.

The meeting took place only a few days after the military took control in Thailand, and as we were just across the Mekong there were clear signs of the situation.

I will not repeat my bronchial woes, but suffice to say that this meant that my planned Lao explorations were seriously limited and so too are my photos, so here are a few:

Street scenes

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Rehydrating and resting with a coconut water rather in sync with the background architecture.

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Evening lights

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Special beauty treatments – face decorating anyone?

Face decorating :)

Face decorating 🙂

Confusion at the ATM – options to withdraw 100,000 or 500,000 Lao Kip – or a cool million?! Realising that 1,000,000 Kip is just over 120 US Dollars, the temptation to become a millionaire was too great!

ATM confusion

ATM confusion

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There were also a few opportunities to capture a few Laos shadow selfies to immortalise my presence there.

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Night market

Night market

And a London taxi beside a Laos tuk-tuk delivering passengers to the airport!

 

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My visit to Vientiane was sadly not enough to really explore, but it just means I need to go back and spend some leisurely and well time there.

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Shadow, reflection and showers

I feel as if the dry season has stretched a little this year.  Weeks and months creep past, with hardly a drop of rain.  Showers which we can mark in the calendar.  Yes, that was the week it rained, we remember. A January rainstorm and an April downpour.  Aberrations, punctuating the increasingly stifling heat building around us. We start to dream of rain, to imagine we hear drops falling.  The wind rises, whispering promises of rain soon, soon.  My heart soared two weeks ago, on a stuffy Saturday afternoon when I heard that unmistakable sound of large, bulging raindrops falling outside. Raindrops I could count, and see their mark on the ground briefly before they were swallowed by the parched ground.  There is only one thing to be done on hearing this sound, and catching the scent of fresh rain in the air.  Before I know what has happened, I am in the garden, face upturned and arms outstretched, welcoming those first delicious rains onto my face, smiling and laughing like a child.  The shower might be brief but so refreshes the mind and body and sharpens the anticipation of the rains.

The rain came again on Tuesday, hidden while I was inside the airport building and unseen until boarding.  Such a sense of disappointment and being cheated, at not being able to watch or feel the rain as it swept in.  The rain on a runway is not the rain I had been dreaming of, nor the rain streaked horizontally across the cabin windows in the aircraft. Nor the dramatic rain storms underneath while we were kept on hold above our destination. It might have been “not quite the right kind of rain” but it was a renewed promise of monsoon.

It has rained every afternoon since then.  Bulky clouds with attitude gathering in the sky, thunder rumbling and cracking, spirited breezes materialising from nowhere and rains teeming down. Alongside a renewed energy and exuberance within each of us. The frogs are wakening and critters being washed from their hiding places. The landscape will quickly change.

And so too does my image for now.  Over this dry season, I have become increasingly fascinated with the play of light, of shadows and of reflection as I struggle to get to know my camera, and try to capture glimpses of magic I see around me.

I am also a little naughty with the concept of “selfie” photography and have my own version which protects my privacy yet places me in my environment.  The “Shadow Selfie” is what I call it.  Now that the rains are moving in I am sure there will be less shadow and I have therefore chosen an image which comes from this very special time when the season starts to turn, and the trees come to life with their array of colour.  I particularly love the jacaranda and could not resist a “shadow selfie” under a blossoming jacaranda tree as I paused on my cycle home from my early morning swim.

Shadow selfie and fallen Jacaranda blossom
Shadow selfie and fallen Jacaranda blossom

The jacaranda is already shedding its colours as the season changes.

All the more reason to preserve it just a little longer.