boat racing festival

It’s the end of Buddhist Lent!  That means a huge party in the streets of Vientiane.

In preparation for the Boat Racing Festival, the street along the Mekong has been filled with stalls and a carnival for weeks.  The music has been blaring non-stop, the traffic is unmanageable, and there are people everywhere.

On Tuesday night, all of Vientiane gathered along the banks of the Mekong to put “Koutung” into the river; a small boat made of banana leaves and flowers, with a candle.  The idea is that you light the candle, say a prayer or make a wish, and then let your little boat float out into the Mekong and down the river, and then your wish will come true.  There are also fireworks and lots of other exciting things to do during this time, and everyone, everywhere, was drunk, for days.

The following day rowing teams from across the province came to Vientiane to compete in a Boat racing festival.  Here are some pictures:

me with my banana boat
me with my banana boat
I won’t tell you what my wish was.
Tuesday was also an exciting day for me because not only did I get to climb down the muddy sides of the Mekong to float a banana boat down it (which promptly got stuck in some tall grasses and then the candle went out…), but earlier in the day, at the library, we had a little celebration, and dined on DOG MEAT!
Yes, that’s right, I finally ate dog.  And it wasn’t that bad. The funniest thing was that the Lao all pretend they don’t eat dog, and I went around asking the ladies “Gin ma bow?” (want to eat dog?”), and Mr. Chansy, and Mr. Somephone, would say “Shhhh!! Don’t sayit out loud!”, as if they were ashamed that people would know the Lao eat dog.  But then, when we brought out the dog, everybody was like “Sep lae!”  (very delicious!). Quite a few people even pretended they had never eaten dog before… and would say “oh…. I can’t eat dog.  But I heard it was the most delicious meat.”  and Mr Chansy kept telling me “You know, in Korea, and Vietnam, they like to eat dog.  But not in Lao.”
Anyway, the moral of the story is, almost everybody eats dog here, or has at least once in their life, but they probably won’t admit it.
Ok, so more pictures form the Boat Racing Festival and Night of the Candles:
Bumper Cars!