Well we are here in Vientiane, Laos on the weekend of Bun Awk Phansa and Bun Nam. Bun Awk Phansa is the celebration of the end of 3 months of fasting and retreat by the monks, everyone parties to celebrate and sends little banana leaf boats down the Mekong filled with flowers, incense and candles.  The day after is Bun Nam which is a day of boat races between various teams from the countries on the Mekong. Lots more partying and good times. This includes miles of street stalls selling clothes, purses, shoes, laundry soap (!), mobile phones, and food everywhere, all accompanied by booming music, karaoke and firecrackers. There are midway rides and carnival games – pop the balloon with the dart being the favourite. We were downtown this evening with everyone from Vientiane (pop. 234,000) and from miles around, pushing, dancing and mingling with the throngs. All good fun topped off with some cotton candy! Luckily our hotel is a bit away from downtown so we have been getting the best sleeps on the whole trip at the Beau Rivage Hotel.

Fermenting Indigo for dye

Weaver doing intricate silk work on the loom

For the crafters…

Yesterday Catherine, Ian’s sister, who is teaching grade 6 here, met up with us for lunch and we headed out to visit her friend Nikone who owns a Handcraft Centre where she has revived traditional Lao silk dyeing and weaving. They use all organic dyes and her tour was very interesting. Some beautiful silk pieces are coming home with us.

In addition to taking in the boat festival happenings and going to Nikone’s, we have explored town with Cate and Bow taking pictures of all the flowers and the Wats, and Hesquiat, Bow and I went to a spa for reflexology, pedicure and Thai massage.
For those foodies…
We also had a wonderful lunch at Cafe Croissant d’or which served great sandwiches. We discovered it earlier in the day when we were dying from the heat ( was it 38*?) and stumbled in for some cool shade and iced lemons and coffee. Yum all round.
While we were lunching on baguettes others more adventurous were enjoying local delicacies – see below:

yum for some!

Other sights, imagine sounds and smells below, more on flowers and Wats in later posts.

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