Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beerlao and boat races...

After a full day of traveling - Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Hanoi, and finally Luang Prabang - once we checked into the hotel we just wandered up the main street and enjoyed a bottle of wine at one of the many outdoor seating bars ant restaurants that line the main street before returning and heading quickly to bed.

The next day we awoke fully refreshed, enjoyed a good breakfast at the hotel with an excellent baguette. It's amazing how much we appreciate good bread after our time in China. Then for a quick trip to one of the many travel agents to plan the middle part of our trip, and some quick wandering through this tiny UNESCO town.
When we had left the hotel that morning the receptionist told us that we could go down and watch the boat races, that we were lucky to have arrived when they were going on. When we sat as a small restaurant just before noon we could see them practicing along the other side of the river.

And the other side of the river was starting to full up with people, so figuring that this was the best place to go and watch we paid 10,000 Kip (1.17 USD) to get a ride across and then took to finding a good place to watch from since we now realized that we were on the side in direct sunlight. As we walked along where all the locals were crammed into tables with coolers and grills set up we saw an opening on the bench and asked if we could sit up there with them. No problems, and soon we were under the protective tarp with a great view of the river.
To our right was a big group of women, most in bright orange shirts, so we decided the we would also cheer for the orange boat when came by. We ordered some sticky rice, and a couple other plates along with two Beerlao for us to enjoy.
The women had the delivery guy bring them down enough Beerlao to keep them stocked throughout the day's races.

One of the first heats of the boat races - blue won.
There was a lot of cheering and just good fun, some of them were trying to use our Lao guidebook to look up things so we could see the English translation. The kids did the best with helping with this, and it was very good when we needed to use the bathroom after the third or fourth race.
From there it deteriorated as any good outing should into a series of cheering each other to finish your drinks. Somewhere along the road we got invited in to be drinking with them and soon they were filling our cups, or providing us new ones, whenever we were empty.
In the end one of the boats won and there was much cheering. They all lived on that side of the river so we got their address and mailed them a good stack of photos from the day. At one point Tina and I didn't have our camera's and the girls were running around snapping up photos, as we took our turn at purchasing the beer and filling their cups up.You may have noticed that Tina's hat was passed around to most of the women for the pictures, they really took a liking to it for some reason we couldn't fully understand. That final photo is of the woman the Tina finally left it with.

After a full day of snacks, drinks, and boat watching we headed back to the other side of the river. The return trip we bartered down to 5,000 Kip, and after a quick bite to eat we were off to bed so we could get up early the next day for the 6+ hour drive to Phonsavan.

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