vientiane times

Things have been pretty calm an quiet here in Vientiane.

Last weekend I went to a party at Mr. Seethong’s house, one of the people I work with at the Central Library.

I arrived around 11:30 am, and Mr. Seethong had explained to me that he had invited some monkes over to give them alms and then they would bless his house or something along those lines.  So, when I arrived, the monks were seated on the floor in the living room, eating.  Then, some kind of ceremony took place, where some old guy gave a speech, then the monks started chanting, then the took a bowl of water and flowers, and dipped some leaves in it, and then one of the monks used the wet leaves to sprinkle water all over the place.  I suppose this is not a very good description of the events, but I didn’t really know what was happening, and couldn’t understand anything being said.  They just told me to sit down with my head bent and my hands together.

During this entire ceremony, several people answered their cellphones.  At one point everyone took out small bottles of water and poured them into bowls with candles in them.

Then some people went up to the monks and had them tie string bracelets around their wrists.  Mr. Seethong told me I should go and get one, so I kneeled in front of one of the monks, who is probably about 80 years old, and he tied a white string bracelet around my wrist, and said some things in Lao I did not understand.

Then, at 11:57, all of the monks left.  For some reason also there were rice grains all over the floor.  I tried asking people about the significance of all of these events and aspects of the ceremony but the only thing I could understand was that it was for good luck.

After the monks left, my boss arrived, and some food was served, and excessive amounts of Beerlao were distributed.

While a variety of food was present, the most notable (sorry… no picture) was some kind of Tom Yum style soup with chunks of congealed blood in it.

partytime!
partytime!

Luckily, the Beerlao was also served room temperature with lots of ice, so even though they insisted upon refilling my glass every 10 minutes from noon until 3pm, I managed to not get totally schlitzed in front of all of my work colleagues on a Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Chansy Phuangsouketh, Director, Central Library, National University of Laos, and Beerlao spokesperson.
Mr. Chansy Phuangsouketh, Director, Central Library, National University of Laos, and Beerlao spokesperson.

However I did glean this important detail from the whole experience:  the little bracelet the monk gave me would bring me good luck, and according to Mr. Chansy, help me find a “Pubao Lao” (Lao young man) to marry.

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