Sunday, June 8, 2008

I Lost My Soul in Vientiane... errr...

I mean "sole".

Now this is funny!

For a change, I decided to use a different pair of shoe for this trip. And no leather Doc Martens too. That would be too "heavy, bulky" carrying around. Anyway, while punishing myself with an arduous climb going up the upper cave of the Buddha Caves (Pak Ou Caves) along the Mekong River in Luang Prabang- after a wobbly 1 hour ride with my sangtheaw - I felt a "rattling" sometime during the climb. I was breathless and didn't notice anything else. Then when I got back to my hotel, I noticed that my right shoe's sole was gone!

Now, you have to know that this is a very old rubber shoe that I haven't used in 5-6 years. In fact, I've probably used it less than half a dozen times. This was a very cheap shoe I bought on a whim. Having said that, I have been walking around Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng with a sole-less shoe, which is funny. I plan to buy a new pair once I am in Bangkok. Buying one in Laos doesn't seem practical, as per price, style, etc.

Today, I was walking along Lane Xang, a majestic avenue in the center of Vientiane which has the Victory Monument in one end (their version of Paris' Arc de Triomphe - bigger and taller than the original to spite their former colonizer) and the Presidential Palace at the other end. On with the story, while walking there, I felt a disconcerting "flapping" sound at my left shoe! Now, I was trying to walk inconspicuously as it was embarassing being seen with a flapping sole while walking along a beautiful avenue. Upon reaching the curb of the road, i stepped on the flap and removed it altogether.

It is drizzling in Vientianne. The streets are immaculate. The people are so friendly, even the policemen are accommodating. These bunch of beautiful people - the Lao - seem bewildered why people (caucasians) are flocking to their country by truckloads! Their innocence is sweet. This is why Laos is considered as the most relaxed city in the world. No touts, no overly persistent hawkers and vendors. When you say "no", they leave you alone.

In the process, I lost my soles in Vientiane! I am a man walking without a sole.

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