Thursday, October 11, 2012

Take Me to Your Heart

Often when I travel there is a song that seems to pervade, sticking to the memories of the trip, and that song will then forever remind me of that place or time or trip. So, what's the song for Laos you ask???

Take Me to Your Heart.

I've heard it at the grocery store, along the street, at the bus stop. While it is definitely not a song I would normally listen to, and it's not even new, I've found myself humming it, and even keeping an ear out for it. (Side-note about music in the grocery store, I've heard Taylor Swift Christmas music, and Eminem songs so full of expletives that I ran around trying to get my stuff and get out as quickly as possible. Apparently they aren't very selective, or aware.) I don't know why it's stood out so much to me. Maybe because I've never heard it before and it's so not Lao, but it's everywhere!

In the Dominican Republic, we were all crooning-Baby te quiero-wo-woo

This song is stuck with the blitzkrieg trip to San Diego made with my roommates sophomore year of college when we helped clean up the damage from all the fires.

Are there any songs that instantly remind you of a trip or place?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Crossing the Border

So every month, I have to leave the country in order to come back in and renew my visa. Convenient huh. Luckily Thailand is a quick bus drive away from Vientiane. So, I decided to make a day of it and head to the nearest city in Thailand-Nongkhai. I didn't really have a plan though. So when the Tuk-Tuk I caught dropped a group of people off at a market, I decided to get off too. There ended up being this cute little set up for people to take pictures at.

And that's when he popped in. Seriously, this is how we met.

And then they were buying me lunch and I was getting in a Tuk-Tuk with them. Let the adventures roll!

First stop, the Thai version of Buddha Park

Yep, I'm so cute.

I've come to realize these shorts are really unflattering. It's quite unfortunate.

These things popping out of the trees were really quite ominous. I kind of felt like I was in Jurassic Park-"Must go faster."

And then why not check out the crocodile show!?

There were like 5 crocs swimming around in there with them.

Yep, he really stuck his head in there.

Before doing stunts like this they would knock around the gator's mouth with the bamboo sticks a bunch and goof off a ton. Maybe to make them feel comfortable with being messed with??? At least we know they weren't hungry!

This stuffed little guy is totally plotting something!!! REVENGE!

They actually paid for most of my activities and things, and it was really awkward when I tried to pay. Apparently this is a part of Chinese culture (they're all from China and are here working), and I totally got the benefit of them hosting me for the day. Score! Lesson of the day: hoping into stranger's pictures is a great way to make friends.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dungeons and Demons

Two weekends ago I decided to venture out a bit. Near Vientiane there is a sculpture park, known to Falang (the Lao version of Gringo) as Buddha Park. On my trip I met two Slovenian girls headed the same way. It was nice to have some company, and be each other's photographers. 

 This is probably the weirdest statue there, although it was FULL of crazy statues

 There were three levels inside the circle, each filled with creepy statues and scenes

At the top!

The reclining Buddha

The stairs to the top were really narrow!

The way home we hitched a ride with some UN workers, and then walked part-way across the bridge between Thailand and Laos to find the bus. An accidental adventure. One of the coolest things about being here is meeting people from everywhere. I rarely meet any Americans. I'll post soon about the awesome Chinese guys I made friends with last weekend!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gettin' Fresh at Church

So I was standing there at church, going through introductions with a woman whose husband works at the embassy, when all of a sudden there are hands...running up and down my sides, and words...words that I'll never understand (Lao is hard!). I'm sure she was just being friendly, but man, her hands got pretty low.

And then somehow my wanting to help with English classes ended up with me being an English teacher today. I skimmed the workbook while walking into the room...ummm...hello class.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Want to Ride My Bicycle!

When visiting places I love renting a bike to explore. So far I've gotten to do this on Coronado Island, Chicago, and it's a great way to see the monuments in DC. So when I found out I could rent a bike here for less than $2 for a whole day, you know I was going to take advantage of that.

So I loaded up with banana pancakes drizzled in local honey (So good!)

Then I rented a bike from the same place I had my pancakes, which is Noy's Fruit Heaven (they already recognize me here, the fruit smoothies are truly heaven).

My main destination was Pha That Luang. Here's the thing, Laos is not necessarily bike all. I wanted to stick to sidewalks as much as possible, but you see the sidewalks double as parking lots, and often people with their pop-up markets are selling their wares, sometimes the sidewalks end with a high curb and it's either constantly stop and ease the bike down or take to the streets, and sometimes there are no sidewalks. And there are definitely no bike lanes. It was a lot of weaving, stopping, dodging, ducking. And even on a bike, I still got the usual question of "Tuk tuk?!"

But I made it without real incident.

I ended my exploration by biking along the Mekong. And then got some crazy fruit. There are lot of new ones to try here. This is called Rambutan. The outside is CRAZY! You pop the hairy looking shell off and inside is a sweet juicy thing, but you have to beware of the pit. I got a whole kilogram of these, since I had no idea how much that would be, and now I have quiet a lot of these. Good thing they're so good! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A STUPAndeous Arch

So, the title is supposed to be punny...

Here's the Stupa-

Here is the Arch-

Both are in my area, so I went and visited last weekend. Here is the view from the very top window of the arch-

So I'm not one to take pictures of myself, and I've never gone anywhere alone where I would want pictures. So, trying to take pictures of myself somewhere cool is kind of a challenge. Here are my attempts-

 I finally asked someone to take a picture for me, it felt awkward...

I invested in ear plugs today, here's to hoping that it will keep the dog fights, cat yowls, and Buddhist chants from waking me throughout the night. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 
Robert Frost
It is a poem referred to time and time again. I had to memorize it in middle school, and again in high school. But  tonight was one of those times where it rang with such clarity. Oh that first stanza! How I wish I could be in two places at once! To stand at the edge of decisiveness straining to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead. But there is no real knowledge, only hope that it will be a good trail that leads to a great destination. And unlike choose your own adventure books where I would try to place a bookmark at every turning point, and then go back to it after that trail ended to start down another path, we can never really go back to where we were exactly before. The path was grassy and wanted wear, so I took it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Laos via Bangkok via Seoul

So I made it from one capitol to the next. DC to Vientiane. It took some doing. I have to say, I'm impressed with Korea Air, and very grateful for the toothbrush and paste they provided. I had expected that I would be getting my checked bags in Bangkok with my overnight and airline switch there-but they pushed them through for me. Which was convenient except I had checked ALL of my toiletries to make security easier. The little slippers they also included made me laugh, but people really used them!

My sense of time during that flight was totally off. All I know is we took off after lunch one day woke for two meals, neither of which was breakfast-y, slept most of the time, watched movies the rest of the time, and got to Seoul at dinner time the next day. I had a very short time in the airport there but learned some interesting things. First being the Etiquette Bell present in the women's restrooms. It looks like this:


I wanted to push it. I chickened out, but knew I would be Google-ing it later. It's pretty much what I thought it would be-it makes a flushing sound to mask any unpleasant sounds coming from your stall. Seriously, doesn't this tell you so much about there culture right there!

I also learned that neighbors who peek at your boarding pass can prove incredibly helpful. I knew I would be a little rushed to get to my next flight at the Seoul airport, but didn't expect to have to go through additional security! My neighbors pushed me to the front, cutting in front of a bunch of people (none of whom protested thankfully), and I made it just in time.

My overnight in Bangkok proved interesting. I knew the hotel had a shuttle, but to find it I walked around with my print-out from the travel agency who had claimed to book the place for me showing it to the masses of hotels and people searching for arrivals (this airport was packed!). Once I found the right man, I wasn't on the list, but he put me on since I had my print-out. The hotel didn't have me on there either -travel agency fail- Luckily, they had an open room for me after waiting while phone calls were made to make sure they hadn't received payment from the agency-which they hadn't. I did find a surprise in the Thai restrooms as well.

Luckily I found some toilet paper, but this is also the set up here in Laos, and I wasn't as lucky while out exploring today...somehow that wasn't mentioned in anything I read before leaving...ANYway, there was some funky food on the plane. Mostly meat and rice, but also a tub of tofu with some soy-based sauce, yeah, couldn't muster much of that. I had been seriously hoping it was a type of custard or pudding. I was so, so wrong. There was also this rice/gelatin based, bright blue with brown frosting topped with some stringy orange stuff dessert that looked like cake...but really wasn't. It was a fearful sight, and I could only get down a couple bites.

My apartment is really great. This is the view from my window.

And from my rooftop garden:

And my wandering today took me to these other cool temples.

There are two tiny Buddhas  in each of the little alcoves. I hope this satisfies you all for a bit. I'll try to keep this updated more!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Swing Away

I really just need to avoid swing dances at all costs. This time it was a church function, so I thought I would be safe. I just can't get over the awkwardness of it. I'm holding hands with some guy I've never met before. If I want to try and talk to him I either have to get real close to his ear and have no eye contact, or I try to make eye contact at kissing range. I can never hold a gaze for more than 5 seconds.

So, this time I danced a couple then graciously backed out of the room. I then proceeded to grab a cup of water and head to a loft area that overlooked the dance floor. I talked and sipped, and talked and sipped, and then talked some more. At this point I forget that there is still more water left in my cup that I've half crumpled in my hand (Yep, it's that obvious what is about to happen). So, as I'm leaning over the balcony, I let me hand drop, and that water drops down right onto some poor girls head. She got a good look at me and was able send one very nasty glare my way as I panicked and shouted 'OH MY GOSH, I'M SO SORRY!!! HOLY SOMETHING!!!' I then dived to the ground for cover. It took awhile for the witnesses to recover from the spasms of laughter that overtook them. So, yeah, I'm that girl who dumps water onto unsuspecting girl's heads. Her poor hair-do.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Few Good Things

I got some furniture!!!
My new awesome roommate gave me a desk she was going to get rid of, and is letting me use her bed, which is now currently stacked on top of the old, gross bed, since I haven't figured out how to get rid of it yet. I also splurged on an Ikea office chair so that I can actually sit at my desk.

There is something so fulfilling about creating something myself (*pat myself on the back*).

Functions as vanity and desk.

I feel like the Princess and the Pea! 
Except it would more likely be a dead fly, we've had this horrible infestation...we're starting to keep a kill tally.

I also have some really great news. I got a paid internship!!! Yay!!! A friend of mine hooked me up, and I will be the new Communications Intern for Development Gateway. They are all about better information tools, data, and transparency in the development world. I'm really excited about this opportunity. While a part of me has a hard time that I've seemingly taken a step back into becoming an intern, it is also a step forward into the international development arena that I really want to become involved in. I will start in a week, so I'm going to try and enjoy this last week of no job but as much as I can!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hello, Meet My Soul

So, I know I already talked about A Blog About Love and how awesome they are. But I couldn't help but share the same Ted Talk by Brene Brown they posted earlier this month, because after watching it today I realized that my fear of vulnerability is the Beast that I have to conquer in order to be Me to the fullest extent. To be able to love the way I want to, the way Christ loves. So first, you should watch it if you haven't yet.

When we truly represent ourselves, there will be those who reject us, which can be oh so painful, but those who receive us in our true and imperfect form, will truly love us. Not who I wish I was, but who I really am.

So, now I have to figure out when I'm not being true to myself. Are the times I'm being quiet really a part of who I am, as a people watcher, or am I just being guarded? Where is that line between being too open- where people start to squirm (TMI!), and being refreshingly bold? How do I continue to set goals for myself without becoming critical of who I am? What should I want as opposed to what I think I should want out of life?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Can I have yo' number?

So, I did it. I took the step into utter darkness and moved across the country without a job to depend on. Just myself, two checked bags, a carry-on and a personal item bursting to the seams. I also wore a ridiculous amount of clothing. My neighborhood is full of rows and rows of homes that look like this:

I love it. It's beautiful.

My roommates have been super nice and helpful. So nice, in fact, that one of them took me swing dancing with her Saturday night! There was a live band that was really great, and played a lot of classic songs that if I was more cultured I would recognize. My dancing was pretty horrible. Probably should have taken that intro to social dance class instead of the beginning tap dance class that I did take (I knew I wouldn't have to hold any sweaty hands in that one at least). Several of my dance partners laughed at me as I twirled when I wasn't supposed to, and stood still when I was supposed to. Although there was one that was quite taken with me. However, I was not quite as taken with him. When he asked for my number I was unprepared and forgot how to say no. So I started saying my number, and then changed the last number so that he would end up calling someone else...cowardly I know.

I did not expect him to call me right then. While I was dancing with him. So that I would kindly have his number too.

I knew I would have seconds before someone else picked up or the answering machine for some dude started playing. And I would be right there, "Yeah, I totally just lied to you and gave you a wrong number...should we finish this dance?" I didn't like the sound of that, so in my panic I come up with, " Oh! You know, I actually just changed my number, totally forgot, it's actually..."
The fact that it was only a digit different didn't through him off at all. So now I have to figure out how to respond if he actually calls. Suggestions?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

On Being a Davis

I have always felt that being a Davis was an extremely special thing. I am one of the lucky ones. I treasure my memories of uncles doing Star Wars and Napoleon Dynamite impersonations, and have stood in front of them all with my immediate family wearing billy-bob teeth telling redneck jokes. You wish your family was as classy as mine.

Laughter. Laughter and food pervades when we get together.

Not only did they once gather a large cash pool when my aunt challenged me to find a guy to kiss at midnight on a New Years long past (he had to be a stranger, and it had to last at least 3 seconds), but they actually paid up when I did it. My grandparents even wished me luck as I headed to the dance to find some loose boy. I learned that I prefer kissing guys I know and like, but it was totally worth it to win the bet.

Speaking of my grandparents, I want to know how they did it. How they have raised a family such as ours. From what I've heard, living in that house was cramped and money was tight, but the good stories abound. I love my grandfather's steadiness. His creativeness in the kitchen (garbanzo bean pancakes anyone?). The way he throws his head back when he laughs and how he folds his arms across his chest making our lighthearted conversation feel important and intimate. His pace is different from my grandmother's whose get-up-and go attitude and ability to get things done right then astounds me. They are united in their ability to care for and love everyone they come in contact with. They are constantly serving, working, giving, caring. They are true disciples of Christ.

Of course there are opposing personalities as you would expect in a large family, but there is so much love, it is easy for me to overlook the clashes.

2011 was full of family for me. I visited my grandparents three times, including our family reunion. Which was awesome since I missed the last family reunion, and I got to spend a lot of time with my younger cousins that I don't usually get. I crashed my aunt's family in Colorado for the first time while job hunting-she has such an awesome sense of humor, and have appreciated the support from many of my aunts and uncles and cousins this year. My brother came home from his mission, and I've loved getting to spend time with him and laughing together. My family has been all together several times this year, including his homecoming, my mom's birthday, and the holidays. I am lucky my sister lives only three hours away. Not to mention the fact that I've been living at home for a while now and so I get to interact with my youngest brother and parents in a way I haven't for a long long time. Honestly, I've loved the time I've gotten to spend with them all. The older I get the more I realize how lucky I am to have the parents I do. The things they have taught me and continue to teach me have been critical in the decisions I've made and how I live my life. They are supportive and wise and still learning.

I know it seems like I'm ignoring where the other half of my genes and personality comes from, but that will take a separate post. But I want to thank all my family (since you guys are pretty much the only ones who read this, and a few friends) for being so awesome, especially this last year. Here's to 2012 and eternity.