Translates as Sharon? Really?

Ah, the simple life

A half empty plane from Bangkok, what's up? At least arrival at LP airport is refreshingly unchanged: cost of a visa on arrival for un francais: usd 30, for un anglais: usd35. At least everyone has to pay the extra dollar if your flight arrives after 4pm which they always seem to. We ought to apply the same principle when they visit our old colonies.

The guesthouse at first glance looks unchanged, but suddenly we notice their restaurant across the road has disappeared to be replaced by a few breakfast tables on their veranda. It seems the authorities have had a clear out of all the casual dining places along the Nam Khan river bank to be replaced with attractive vegetation and seating. Only phase one (demolition of existing arrangements) has been carried out so far, surprise surprise.

It would have been more useful if the authorities had spent all our visa dollars on supporting the sidewalk further on from crumbling away down the river bank.

More and more of the heritage houses are being tastefully converted into accommodation despite the fact that it all seems a bit quiet despite being local New Year. There is even a dearth of orange-robed monks on the streets though we haven't yet roused ourselves at 6am to see if there is a turnout for the morning alms giving ceremony.

Perhaps they've all gone home to be reunited with their families. Some say there has been a negative impact on visitor numbers following the death last year of the Thai king discouraging tourist numbers to Asia in case of disturbances. Who knows?

Cultural activities continue to proliferate with dance shows, storytelling and open air films on old Laos and its customs. Otherwise, the pace of life is slow and tranquil devoid of any active nightlife beyond the hum of the night market, the restaurants, cafes and occasional wine bar and ubiquitous tuktuks. Just the way we like it and as it was ten years ago when we first came here. Even the police see no need to keep their station open after 5pm.

Oh yes, we foreigners all walk around feeling like millionaires because we are. For about 100 pounds, you can carry aware a million of the local kip currency in grubby notes, enough to get 100 kilos of laundry done.

That's an awful lot of T-shirts.

As it's around 90 degrees at midday at present and expected to rise, I guess it's time for a kip.

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