While the boys were waterfalling it up I’d returned from the hospital and immediately got a beer, a little pissed that my ear problems were going to be such a roadblock. I sat down in the common area / treehousey kind of thing and a guy across the table asked me, “Isn’t it a bit early for beer?” “No, it’s after lunch.” He laughed and we got to talking, real good guy named Piotr from Poland originally, most recently worked in England as a C++ developer, just quit his job and bumming around SEA, basically being pretty cool exactly like myself. Shot the shit for a couple hours, a mix of developer shop-talk and politics (really enjoyable as he was one of the few travelers I’ve met whose views pretty much align with my own).
When Murphy and Drisdelle got back we had a quick pow-wow to reevaluate how the no-fly thing would impact our plans then we geared up to head into the renowned night market of Luang Prabang with the crew they’d hit the waterfalls with. We meandered through some sleepy streets, no one seemed to know exactly which road to take but eventually we made our way there and started rolling through the merch.
Pedro led us to a stall that was serving up huge plates of vegetarian stirfry, grab a plate, throw on a shitload of different shit, give it to a guy with a wok and he throws in a bunch of crazy sauce. I was slightly worried about it being fish sauce but he assured us it was completely vegetarian. We cracked a few fresh coldies and slammed the stirfry into our guts, it was delicious and we were completely stuffed for 10,000 kip a head – about a buck-twenty.
Continuing through the stalls we saw a lot of the kind of things you’d expect to see like elephant pants and touristy t-shirts but there were some real gems. One stall was selling pendants made out of what looked to be lead in the shape of peace symbols and hearts, as well as spoons and chopsticks made of the same material. Nothing too special until we noticed on closer inspection that the material used was apparently from bombs that had been dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War. Another stall was selling cocktails, others were selling collapsible lanterns, and in one spot there was a carpet laid out with a bunch of little change purses. A girl sitting on the carpet said “Everything, hand-stitched.” The change purses were simple but each had a picture of some kind of animal or creature with a description next to it. A scraggly cat had “Cat is looking for food”. A tiger had “Tiger lives in the forest”. A dog had “Dog is pet”. A fish had “Fish lives in the ocean”. A rhinoceros had “Rhinoceros lives in the zoo”. That’s dark. One with a hilarious-looking T-Rex said “Dinosaur is disappeared”. We were blown away but laughing, couldn’t walk away without picking a few up.
After the night market the word on the street is that everyone’s hitting the Utopia Bar, the only real bar in town. On our walk our drinks were getting low so we cut into a supermarket with drinks in hand, no hassle. We grabbed another round and looked around, the place was full of bizarre shit like 12-inch tall statues of dapper suit-wearing roosters. As I was trying to figure out how to travel with a rooster statue this really fucked up scrawny older white guy in a black t-shirt with a hammer & sickle on it goes past me muttering completely insane bullshit with a British accent. I walk over to the crew, “That guy is FUCKED. I hope we don’t see him again.”
Reliquored we’re almost to Utopia when a local guy starts following us and hassling us to buy weed. A quick glance shows that it’s shit, go away dude. You want this? You want that? You want opium? My head snaps sideways, now you have my attention sir. Let’s see the opium. It’s in a shitty little bag and it looks like shoe polish. How much? He gives us what I can only assume is a wildly inflated whiteguy number. I really do want some opium but I don’t want it from this guy. Sorry dude no deal. He makes this crazy Skeletor-sounding “Yaaaaah” noise and we laugh our asses off. Keep walking and we start mimicking his YAAAH noise. After about a dozen of these we look back and the dude is right on our heels. He goes “Yaaaaaaaah” and we completely lose our shit. Holy fuck that’s funny. Let’s get some drinks at Utopia.