Low Season Highs

It’s the low season in Laos now, which means fun for locals. And by “fun”, I mean quiet streets, no lines at the airport (no, really: personal boarding calls at the airport and flights that go like busses, when everyone is there). Scratch that, no lines for anything.

Not that Lao PDR is full of lines, mind you, but after nearly two years here a whopping six people ahead of me at the ticket counter is mind blowing.

There’s the citywide domino crash of restaurants and bars closing for a low-season break. The upside of the closings, of course, are the closing parties. Two weeks ago it seemed like every time I went out to dinner I’d be grabbed by the manager, told “It’s a good thing you got here tonight—tomorrow we close!” and then was treated to free experimental desserts as they got rid of perishable food and practiced new dishes for their big openings. Wonderful/terrible day-glo “syringe” shooters flowed at another bar closing party, where the owner seemed not to understand that his liquor stock wasn’t going to go bad over his month long holiday. (That made for a good night…and only a slightly hairy morning.)

And now the really local fun sets in. There’s a soccer tournament on between some of the big hotels and restaurants in town. Who needs the Euro 2012 Cup when you’ve got half the towns waiters battling right in front of you? The last game I went to, there were even cheerleaders! (Lao cheerleaders, of course, so their cheers were less, say, vertical, and more like the graceful fon, a Lao dance style.)

So we who live here have all this, plus towering clouds in bright blue skies, green things coming up everywhere, flowers blooming and dropping and blooming so the streets are covered, and so far, eh, a pleasant rain shower once every day or two. This might be the most beautiful time of the year in Laos. I hope everyone doesn’t figure that out.