It's been a wild and sad few days. This is the week before Lao New Year but a friend, who has been a colleague for the past eight years, passed away on Tuesday morning. Lao funerals last a few days, to give family members enough time to come from many places. Then there is the vigil, of many people staying with the family, cooking, hanging out, playing cards, watching videos. Yesterday morning, some 200 of us walked the casket to the cremation site near the river. The wood was dry, the fire was hot and the souls of our friend were released. May he have a good rebirth.