Saturday, August 07, 2010

malaria: like, totally the best diet everrrr

That's a joke I used to tell before I started getting cold sweats and throwing up my first day in Luang Prabang, Laos, at which point I examined the mosquito bite on my ankle, remembered that malaria has the potential to multiply in your body until your brain cells explode and kill you, and thought, "BALLS. Not funny anymore."

So in a futuristic and surprisingly Big Brother-esque maneuver, Laos takes your temperature at the airport with a little ray gun to make sure you aren't bringing the White Man's Burden of Smallpox back into their country. Since they let me in, I assumed I was a healthy individual. But I think we all know what assuming does, and I spent most of the time in that delightful country laying helplessly on my bed, sicker than I've been since Bolivia and watching the only two English channels I could find: BBC and CNN, who played the same 3 hour loop of depressing reports all day long ("everyone is dying in Pakistan because of flooding!! Everyone is dying in Russia because of fires!!", leading me to wonder if we could somehow meet in the middle here and solve everyone's problems). I felt supremely lame while Amy and Mom were gallivanting around, and forced myself to rally enough to ride a tuk-tuk an hour out of town and see a gorgeous waterfall. I'm not including shots of the waterfall because you know what they look like, but here are my dear family members wading through monsoon water to sit at a picnic table. They're so cute.
Later we rode a boat across the little Mekong tributary that runs through town and had dinner at a restaurant barely carved out of the palm tree jungle. We ate surrounded by crickets and geckos and stumbled through mud under a thunderstorm to paddle home.
And since street food is one of my most favorite things about traveling, here's Ames on the first night, selecting from a huge cart of the world's best noodle/tofu/veggie combinations on the side of the road. A dollar a plate, please. Don't mind if I do.
I still wasn't quite up to par on our last day in town, so as Ames and Mom did some intense hike to the top of a hill that probably would have seemed like an IronMan in my weakened state, I wandered around with my camera to see what I could find. I was rewarded when I came across the same man I'd seen a couple times before, who liked to kick aimlessly at the air and kind of lunge at passerby. "Ohhh, the town crazy," I thought affectionately, thinking of that guy in Seattle who lives on the corner of Boston and Lake Union who always yells about how Satan infects us through the radio. Luang Prabang's resident mentally ill person always seems to have a prop, though: sometimes a boulder, sometimes a full-blown Soviet Union flag. I didn't have the heart to tell him the Cold War was over, but I did enjoy wandering the market with him for a while.

If anyone cares, I don't actually have malaria I don't think, so we can still hang out safely without my body imploding and ruining the festivities. And I won't be doing anymore joking around about malaria being a good diet, I missed eating SO MUCH this last week. Still love you though, Laos!


Anonymous said...

Laura, the man with the communist flag is a monk from the main temple. Must be his day off. He is a local celebrity.

Emily said...

Love the photo of Ames in front of the colorful food. Yum. And I laughed out loud at the Elephant Whisperer. So cute!