(if only the Beatles had sung about Laos instead of the USSR)
I have conducted about 5 pilot interviews, which have been getting progressively better. I think I will be able to start collecting data full steam shortly. In the meantime, I am seeing lots of old pals and enjoying catching up.
Being back in Laos after 2 years away, seeing familiar faces and places that have changed, but haven’t, has been quite surreal. I think it’s also been stimulating my subconscious mind and stirring up quite a few dusty memories. The other morning I woke up from an extremely vivid dream in which a friend of mine from Peace Corps Benin was getting married to one of my high school classmates who worked at Schaumburg Library with me from 1995-1997. I haven’t seen the Peace Corps friend in something like 6 years, and my co-worker from STDL since… 1997. It’s quite strange how memory works.
Anyway, I have enrolled in a traditional massage class, which I started yesterday. It’s a week long class about 2 hours day and so far I have had 2 lessons. It’s really quite good and I am very glad I decided to enrol. I have been making studious notes, as well as photos of every step, and getting to practice under the teacher’s careful watch. The teacher, known around town as “Ajarn (teacher) Sak”, is from Ubon Rachitami in Thailand and has been doing massage for over 20 years. His English is not fantastic, but he is an excellent teacher and I am really enjoying his tutelage.
If you are planning to be in Vientiane for more than a week, I would highly recommend visiting the White Lotus Spa and taking a course from Ajarn Sak. A 10-hour course costs $150 USD. If you are in Vientiane for less than a week, just go to White Lotus and get a 1 or 2 hour massage from Ajarn Sak. You have to ask for him specially, and you may have make an appointment ahead of time, but he is well known in town as being the best of the best, and the man seriously has magic fingers.
I plan to type up my class notes and post the photos I have taken when I have some time. For now, these photos from around town will have to do!