New season

I noticed my last post was just over a month ago and started to think what I have been so busy with that has held back my writing. It boils down to two things: I’ve been busy having fun and the rainy season has started. The first means I should have something to write about but the second has effectively made posting difficult due to constant power cuts related to (almost daily) thunder storms. Tonight the storm is yet to come so let’s see how far we get…

In mid-April Laos celebrates the Buddhist New Year (Pi Mai Lao) which for me meant a real holiday rather than just a long weekend. I spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur on my way to Jakarta, where I picked up a friend from university before heading to Bali to scuba dive together. It annoys me that I didn’t write about it immediately afterwards, as now almost a month later I find it hard to get excited about the highlights anymore. KL was a positive surprise, partly because I didn’t have great expectations but also because it offers many things I enjoy a lot which are not easily available in Laos. Shopping, functioning public transport and cinemas aside, I felt KL is an amazingly green city. I enjoyed a long morning walk in Bukit Ninas, a rainforest reserve set up over 100 years ago around the KL Tower, one of the city’s landmarks (and the only one I ended up seeing even if it was through the canopy of the trees). There’s also a massive green area called Lake Gardens some minutes walk away from the central railway station and close to the city there’s more rainforest including a place where you can walk in the canopy (something to plan for next time).

In addition to lush green spaces, water is another element that is somewhat lacking in landlocked Laos. Before entering the deep blue with my scuba gear I must admit I was a little apprehensive of what I was about to get into, but after our first open water dive in the USS Liberty wreck off the north-east coast of Bali I was charmed. Yes I had some minor issues with equalising my air spaces, fin pivoting and mask clearing but in a nutshell it was totally awesome! Tropical fish vocabulary has never been my strongest area and many times when asking an instructor we only heard the name in Bahasa so I can’t give a comprehensive list of the fish we saw, but I can say they were many and absolutely fascinating. Like I wrote in some postcards I sent, almost like being in Finding Nemo – only better with all the variety of underwater life. A typical day meant an early wake-up call, two dives with lunch between or after dives, a Balinese massage (which by the way are fantastic) and a nice dinner before falling asleep (early). Returning back to Vientiane and going back to work was hard to say the least, next time I will plan to return from holiday so I can have a day or two before heading back to the office…

Luckily since Pi Mai, life hasn’t been all work and no play. There was a wonderful Easter brunch, a frisbee barbeque with buckets of beer and cake throwing, a day to celebrate Vappu (1st May) with Finnish karaoke and a brand-new Mölkky-set made of teak, an ad hoc lunch with the girls to celebrate the fact that it was Friday and most recently a big surprise party for our friend for her 30th birthday. This week it’s the second international film festival Vientianale and very soon my birthday. Time just flies when you’re having fun eh? Don’t get me wrong though, I still spend my days in the office from 8 to 5 and study Lao twice a week but sometimes it’s more fun to focus on other things.

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