Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our House in Laos

A number of people have asked about our house in Laos.  I started taking pictures of it over a week ago, and then we lost internet during a torrential downpour, and it was just restored today, so here they are.

The front gate.  It slides to the right to allow a car to drive through. For those walking or riding mopeds, only the small gate on the right is opened.
 Not great lighting, but there are elephants carved into the top of the gate. Pretty sweet.
 The carport.
 The mossed brick walkway to the front door.
 The window above the front door.
 The plants to the left of the front door.
 The house looking from the left of it.
 The yard, with more mossy bricks.
 More plants in the yard.
 More plants in the yard.
 The edging around the house is carved wood.
 The stepping stones. I think they might be some kind of lava rock, but I'm not sure.
 A lotus flower in one of the many potted plants around the house.
 The front door.  There are actually two sets of sliding doors. The outer doors have no windows and have two locks.  The second set of sliding doors does not lock, and has windows.
 Another view of the gate.
 A large urn outside our front door. I can't figure out why it's there. A woman I met who has lived here six months told me I should get fish to live in it so they would eat the mosquito larvae.  So, my housekeeper went out to buy four small fish that the kids love to feed and watch swim.
 Not sure if you can see the fish... they're difficult to photograph.
 Another view of the edging.
 If you look immediately to your left as you walk into the house, you see this staircase. (If you look immediately to your right, you see an empty hallway and a door to a closet and a door to a bathroom, all of which I neglected to photograph, but they are not very visually interesting.)
 The living room.
 The other living room space.
 The sliding doors to the dining room and kitchen.
 The dining room. Each one of those windows can open and then there's a screen that stays closed. We never open them, but I'm assuming that before air conditioning was installed, that's how they kept air moving through the home.
 The dining table. I noticed/ the other day that the table top looks like it's made of one solid piece of wood, so I think it must have been a rather large tree.  The table legs are carved as elephant heads--sorry I didn't take a close up.
 The kitchen.  More cupboard space than I have ever seen and will probably ever use. Amazing. If you turn left from here, there is a laundry room that I forgot to photograph.  And that's the room our guard hangs out in after dark.  During the daylight hours he's here, he does yardwork, so he's not just a guard, but a guardener. ;)
 One pantry... this is where the housekeeper keeps all of the cleaning supplies.
 The other pantry. This is where we keep the unopened food.  If we open something, most of the time we put it in the fridge because it's really humid, and because there are geckos who like to live in the house when we're not looking...
 A view from the top of the stairs.
 An open space at the top of the stairs.  We're using it as a playroom, sort of.  But we don't have our toys yet, so it's not being used much yet.
 If you turn left from the staircase you see this.  If you open those doors, there's a balcony.
 The boys' room.  Scott got a queen, and Bobby got a twin, which is still an upgrade from a crib.  It's a huge room!
 Bathroom next to the boys' room.
 Your bedroom when you come to visit! ;)
 Carvings on the wardrobe.
 Carvings on the windows in the guest room.

 Carving on the sliding door to the master bedroom.

 A linen closet as you enter the master bedroom.
 Master bathroom.

 Master bedroom.
 The enormous wardrobe with lots of doors and drawers.
 More carving.

So, there you have it.  It is a very big, beautiful house.  The company chose it for us and we are very happy with it.  It is actually stipulated in the rental agreement that you have a housekeeper and a guard, so I'm also very happy that I am not in charge of cleaning it! because it is very big. Lots of wood floors to sweep and mop. There is not "central" air conditioning, but there are wall units in almost every room, so we have the air going in the bedrooms and the living room all of the time, and then we turn it on in the dining room or kitchen as needed. We're hoping that means our electric bill will be somewhat reasonable. We should find out tomorrow. Let me know if there's anything I left out that you were curious about. I know a lot of the pictures have bad lighting and I'm sorry for that.

You're welcome to visit whenever you're in the area!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Best 21 Hours We've Ever Spent on an Airplane

We left Seattle around 7pm and landed in San Francisco at 9:30pm.  

We had to check our luggage again to make sure it went all the way to Laos and didn't stop in Singapore and we got a little scare at the ticketing desk.  They said we weren't allowed to fly into Laos without purchasing a return ticket to the United States.  You're technically not allowed to stay in Laos inevitably... even though Matt is kind of a special case since he's working here.  So, Matt had to call his company and have them pay for refundable flights (since we don't have that kind of cash just laying around in our bank account) for us back to the U.S. that we will never use.  It was a very tense half hour while we waited to see if we could go to Laos at all... But it all worked out.

We hung out in the business lounge until our flight to Hong Kong left at 1:15am or thereabouts.  I have never flown business class before, and have therefore never had access to the business lounge... They had showers and toothbrushes and teeny-tiny tubes of toothpaste and fruit and juice and soda and wifi and ice cream and sandwiches and a buffet, etc.  Weird, but cool.  We flew from San Francisco to Hong Kong for 13 hours.  Here are some pictures of the airplane seats/beds we flew in.  Absolutely incredible.  I couldn't get over the accommodations.

Here's the menu... (This is for Nancy, who took pictures of every meal she ate with us in Hawaii.)

Even the peanuts were fancy!

The Antipasto...

The supper...  I had STEAK on an AIRPLANE. What?

Scott and Bobby both slept really well on the airplane.

Bobby fell asleep with his hand in the bag of peanuts...

Those noise-cancelling headphones were complimentary.

Is that not an amazing airplane seat??

We landed in Hong Kong at heaven knows what time of day...  Each time we landed, we had to go through security again.  With five carry-ons, two kids, and a stroller.  We loved it.

We flew for 3 hours from Hong Kong to Singapore and then another 3 hours from Singapore to Vientiane, Laos.  So flying for 21 hours from a time zone that's 14 hours ahead of where you started has its benefits. You've slept and been awake and eaten at such weird times that you really have no starting point for "your time zone" anymore, so adjusting is not as hard as you might think.  We landed at 3pm and waited at the airport for about 2 hours filling out paperwork for visas and then waiting for a car to take us to Matt's work to pick up our car so we could drive to our new home, so by the time we went out for a few groceries and some dinner, it was time for bed anyway and we were ready to sleep.  It all worked out.

My best piece of advice from this trip: never eat pork and century egg congee. Blech!