Haven't been posting very often here, but I'm still alive, still living in Laos. Took a trip to the US during October and spent some time in the Eastern part of the country - Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, NYC, upstate NY and then left from Boston. Although I grew up in New York, I spent most of my last years in the US on the West coast and whenever I go to visit the US, I usually land in Seattle, and head down the coast, crashing into Merced before I bounce back up to Seattle in time to catch the plane back here.
I missed the boat racing festival, not only for Vientiane but also for my village. It's fun when it happens but the build up is kinda agonizing - during the final month before the Big Event, there are many Bouns in the temples, big merit-making ceremonies. At the same time, the villages along the river have their races to select the boats for the race in Vientiane. These are accompanied by a lot of drinking and traffic accidents. That's not fun.
For those who follow the weather, it is now the dust season - a cold wind comes from the north. The mornings are cold and foggy and once the sky clears, it's an incredible shade of blue. It may seem strange that it would get cold in a tropical country but the temperatures can get below freezing in Xieng Khouang, and considering that there's no indoor heating, that can feel pretty cold.