Saturday, March 25, 2006


We're slowly moving towards hot season. In Vientiane, the wind barely moves and the new leaves of the Bodhi tree are still. They are the only sign of life in the temples, where in the afternoons, the tuk-tuk drivers lay down in their vehicles with their feet sticking out, snoozing as soundly as the dogs who sprawl out next to them in the thin strip of shade.

The only movement are the unemployed men who play petanque. It's a game, like bocce, played with metal balls. It's now night, when the village should get quiet. I almost drift off to sleep - and suddenly the hoot of the men wakes me up.

I've played petanque once. A friend had a long tailed boat, so we floated down to a sandbar on the Mekong, ate lunch and after pounding down the sand, had a level playing field. It was fun, mainly because it was a beautiful day with a cool breeze along the river, but I don't think I could play it 24 hours/ day and with the same intensity as my neighbors. To each his own, and they can take petanque.

I do wish they'd be a little quieter about it though.

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