Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Finishing 2017 by Looking at mid-2017

As every year comes to an end, it is customary to review the events of the year and wax nostalgic about all the wonderful experiences you had.  Yeah, I'm not gonna do that.  I'm supposed to be putting together a family calendar, but I decided to do this instead.  Don't tell Mali.

This past June I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and Laos.  As many times as I've had the opportunity to travel to these amazing countries, each time I see something new and fun, and this trip was no exception.  Please enjoy this photo essay.


Loved the three stickers on the inside of the commuter van.  From left to right they read, "If you tell me too late, you'll walk a long way. If you tell me on time, you'll be spot on." "Welcome!" and "If you don't tell me, I won't pull over."  It's a lot funnier if you've ever been a passenger on one of these commuter vans. It's quite the experience, let me say that. 
Bike sharing has come to Bangkok!  I took this picture for my oldest daughter who has an unabashed love for puns.  To be fair, in Thai "pun-pun" (ปั่นๆ) means "to pedal."  Not quite as funny in Thai, now that I think about it...

McDonalds in Bangkok has a Signature Collection line of meal deals that include a black box for the french fries, a clear cup for the soda, and the meal served on a wooden breadboard.  In my defense, I had to try this because it was dubbed the "Nam Tok Burger"--it was basically a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, only instead of a beef patty it had a pork patty and had a sweet chili sauce instead of cheese.  You know, same-same but different.

This was staring me right in the face while I was enjoying my Nam Tok Burger at McDonalds.  I'm not sure they really understand the concept of pricing to clear a store that is closing down.  I mean, on a regular day I would expect to buy one and get one.  I suppose it could be worse; at least it didn't say, "Buy 2 Get 1."  Because that would not surprise me at all in Thailand.

The three languages at the bottom demonstrate the hierarchy of construction workers in Thailand.  From top to bottom: Thai, Khmer (Cambodian), and Burmese.  The only reason Lao isn't on there is because most of the Lao who are literate can read Thai.


This was my dinner at a restaurant in Chiang Mai's extensive outdoor night market.  I mean, I did share some of it with the coworker traveling with me, but not much.  It was delicious.

For those of you wondering where the Burger King's spouse is, the answer is "Chiang Mai, Thailand."  This is literally just around the corner and down the street a little from the Burger King in Chiang Mai, near the Night Market.

You've heard of "chicken of the sea," but apparently there is also a "pig of the sea" and it's for sale in a Chiang Mai street vendor's cart.


I got to my room in Vientiane and this was on the television when I walked in.  Slightly flattering, yes, but also maybe a little creepy.  I was actually pretty impressed they spelled my last name correctly.  Unfortunately, the TV was set into the wall and so the sound was muffled, so I wasn't able to enjoy my Thai soap operas quite as much as I would have liked...

I'm not sure exactly how a Lao magic carpet is different from a magic carpet as found in Arabian Nights. Probably a lot less sarcastic and more subservient.

If I die of food poisoning, it will be because I love eating street food like this.  The chicken was delicious and it was fully cooked.  I'm still alive, so it must have been okay.  Oh, and Schewepe's ma-nao (lime) soda is amazing.

My children rode this very same Ferris wheel back in 2010 when we went to Vientiane as a family for Lao New Year.  I couldn't believe I found it, especially since I wasn't even looking for it.  But I suppose stuff like that happens when you wander somewhat aimlessly through Vientiane.

What's so amazing about this idyllic, lush location?  It's located right smack in the middle of the city.  Yeah, I got a little lost following the directions on my phone trying to get to the Hard Rock Vientiane.  But it was really cool to see this in the middle of the city.

For those of my loyal readers who cannot read Lao, the name of this restaurant is Four Guys.  I've been meaning to take a picture of one of these restaurants or food carts for years.  They are all over Bangkok, but imagine my delight when I found this actual Four Guys restaurant on a corner in Vientiane!  For the record, I have not tried their noodles, but I'm confident I would not find whatever they serve as satisfying as my beloved Five Guys. 
Vientiane is progressing.  When I first visited Laos in 2006, there were no movie theaters in the country.  Now there are two theaters in Vientiane that show current movies.  And you might not be able to see it, but those movie posters are in Lao (and English, obviously).  I'm pretty sure the movies are either dubbed or captioned in Thai rather than Lao, but I was so stoked to see the posters in Lao.  If I had a little more time, I would have actually watched one of the movies, but I had other things to do.

Given that I have a picture above that shows what looks like a jungle in the middle of the city, should anyone really be surprised that I found deer tracks in the cement on a sidewalk along one of the main thoroughfares in Vientiane?

This is a picture for my youngest daughter.  One of the things she loves to say in Lao is ມາເດີ້ ມາເດີ້ ມາກິນເຂົ້າເດີ້ ("Come, come, come on and eat!").  The name of this pho restaurant is ມາເດີ້--Come!  When I showed her the picture, she knew immediately what it said, even though she doesn't read a lick of Lao.

Every thing at this K-Mart is a blue light special.

Only in Laos would you find a rustic pavilion like this in front of a dilapidated, graffiti-covered abandoned building.  Curious that none of the graffiti is in Lao.

This Four Sisters is definitely not the same as the Four Sisters in Virginia.

This statue of Chao Fa Ngum, one of the greatest kings in Lao history, founder of the Kingdom of Lan Xang.  This statue was right across the street from the hotel I stayed in.  And the sky was just beautiful for this picture.


Somewhere between Laos and South Korea.  It was just so beautiful and peaceful, almost like you could lay down and fall asleep on those fluffy clouds.

Thank you, Burger King in Incheon Airport, for having the spicy Shrimp Whopper.  I saw it on the menu on my way out to the region, but I had already ordered and paid for my food, so I had to try it on my way home.  It was delicious.  Burger King here in the United States might want to give it a try.  Just a suggestion.

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