Lazy Laos Life :)

Last update was quite long, so I will send more and shorter updates. Last week was a lazy week. I practiced yoga a lot, especially abdominals (a block in between my legs, navasana – boat pose, another block in my hands and then crunch up, legs still up); my abs are still telling me that is was a real good practice. Time for a repetition 😉. Abs are very important in yoga, though we don’t train them all the time in particular. In almost every asana (pose) you can engage your abs, so you are using them 95% of the lesson. Especially in balancing poses (feet, arms, inversions) you train them. Extra training is always good though 😊. I am also practicing chin stand, scorpion and handstand (I am not really into inversions, but I want to improve my own practice). On Sunday Dec 15, lazy Sunday, I taught the morning class and after breakfast I thought: Sitting and writing at the pool is a good thing to do, a new update 😊. I forgot that was Sunday, party…. So, sitting at the pool typing a new update, music coming from all sides… It’s weekend and Laos people like to celebrate it with really loud music.

Last weekend (13 & 14 December) it was Vang Vieng Music Festival; best to compare it with Concert at Sea, Zand or Pinkpop. Local and international artists (international = Thai and Singapore 😉) singing, performing, DJ-ing and hiphopping at 3 stages and 15,000 festive party poopers. 95% Laos/Asian, 5% Westerns. Loads of beer (festival is sponsored by BeerLao and Sommersby), food and most likely some marihuana, mushrooms, whiskey and wodka 😊. Sulo and I went before all had started to take some pictures (posted on social media and in the gallery); we could enter the terrain without any problems, no one asked us what we were doing. That’s a real difference compare to Holland. Everything is blocked, hard to sneak in, loads of security. For us it was nice, we took some pictures and went back. Heard someone trying to sing (one of the biggest names); the only thing I thought: stop it, it is awful! Luckily no glass around 😉. Vang Vieng is in the weekends busier, but this weekend… we had more traffic jams than on a rainy day in Holland (ok…. Exaggerating is a job an sich 😉). Even walking on the street wasn’t easy, cars parked on the pavement, motorbikes in between the open spaces, 2-way traffic on the road, with all the cars parked… it was a hard job, and you needed a lot of patience as a driver. Or.. maybe you need a charged phone, because, yeah, standing still means… What’s app, Line, Imo, Insta, Facebook, Twitter, SnappChat, watching another episode on NetFlix or YouTube.. why not? We don’t drive, do we? So, why should we bother about safety, don’t drive means you can use your phone!  Police? I have seen 1 police car in 7 weeks. And, eh, money can buy everything, can’t it 😉? Or, wait! The police are also on their phone… because they need to post on their social media how others are using their phones during driving… 😉. Welcome to Laos!

The hotel was almost fully booked thanks to the festival. The staff wasn’t so happy with that, now they needed to work a little harder, and that’s against their nature (isn’t that lovely, don’t rush, take it easy? A good thing to do in Holland, I can show you how it works 😉).

Classes this week were great, I had an amazing outdoor class! 10 people, all levels. 1 of them was an Indian man, Suresh, we went out for dinner at the only Indian restaurant in Vang Vieng 😊. Finally, something else than rice, noodles 😊 😊. Good conversations! He was practicing yoga for a long time, but due to lower back and knee problems he had to back off. He enjoyed the practice, even though he couldn’t do much. And a coincidence (I don’t believe in that, everything happens for a reason) Sulo (another yoga teacher) and Kimberly (a returning student) came in 😊.

You know what is so funny about teaching here, especially Koreans? Every time when I go out of the pose to check if everybody doing ok, they copy and paste. Now I finally understand why everything what’s made in China or Korea is so cheap, just copy and paste. We present them how it can be done, they duplicate it, cheaper because they don’t have to do all the research et voilà, off you go to Action  (well… in a nutshell, definitely there is more going on). Anyway, for teaching it is not really helpful, because I need to put them back in the pose 😊.

On my day off (Tuesday December 10) I went to the Kaeng Nyui (or Kaeng Yui) and Kaeng Lon waterfall. I walked the whole way, in total 15 kms, the road was rocky, dusty, quiet and the scenery was soooo beautiful. I took many pictures, it took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there (normally 7 kms is a bit more than 1 hour). But this route… amazing! A nice small village, kids playing at the school yard, rice fields, bunches of cows, mountains. And all so quiet. The waterfall was beautiful; not big or breath taking or so, but the whole picture made it perfect. I sat there for at least 30 minutes, I was the only one. Then some Koreans came in, rushed to the waterfall, took some pictures and a selfie with me (the first selfie with unknown people, after 7 weeks, a new record! Normally it takes 5 minutes 😉). The lady put herself next to me, phone in her hand, made some gestures and spoke something in Korean English of what I understood as: selfie? I nodded and whoppa, there we go 😊. After they left, it was quiet again, just a few more visitors. I didn’t swim in the water (that was really tooooo cold) but yeah, I needed to feel the cold water, so I put my feet in it. That was bearable, for 2 minutes. Then I just sat there, meditating, enjoying the view, the nature, dragon flies, water spiders, ants, little birds, plants, trees… After almost 2 hours I walked back, spoke with a Swiss guy (he pulled over with his motorbike to check how far it was), had a little chat and continued my way back.

I am really happy that it isn’t freezing anymore. We don’t need blankets anymore during savasana, or towels at the outdoor class. Yeah! So happy about that! I was really looking for gloves last week, so cold, it turned out to be 6 degrees!! Christmas will be in bikini whehehehe. Way better than in Europe, at least, for me 😊.

We were so lucky last week; there was an American pastry chef, he made some vegan pastries, mango-cheesecake and they saved something for us. And this morning, when I said goodbye, they had another vegan pastry (something with caramalised peanuts, yummy!!). I got spoiled here hihi. Like I mentioned in my last blog: I am not complaining. For me, life may be like this forever 😊😊. Can I convince anyone to join me: work less, enjoy more 😊!

Short preview for the upcoming 2,5 weeks. Until Dec 29 I will be in Vang Vieng, teaching. December 30, 31 and January 1 I am in Luang Prabang (still Laos). On Jan 1, 6am (local time) I am at the airport, checking in to Vientiane, and if everything is according plan, transit to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The transit time is short and I need to check in again, immigration and security… but I will make it 😊. I have 2 hours (European, not Laos, Laos hours = 3 😉). I will start teaching at Polwaththa Ecolodges in Digana, close to the jungle, for 2 months (or maybe longer, depends on the tourists and also my visa). After Sri Lanka… I don’t know yet, maybe first visit India and head north to Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar, to continue my trip in Asia (hopefully teaching yoga or else Workaway (which means free accommodation and food in exchange for some work)). I am trying to visit countries I haven’t visited yet, and there a lot of countries I haven’t visited yet 😊. But I will just go with the flow, because life it too short to plan everything ahead.

Well, this is it for this week! You can also keep me updated about your life. Don’t say it’s the same everyday, because it is not. Every day is a new day, every day is special, it’s a present, right here, right now, so let’s seize it today 😊.

With love,

P.S: New pictures will follow soon 🙂

Yoga butt?!

Yeah, it looks like I have a yoga butt! A what?? Is that a well-trained butt? Yes and no… over-trained, over-stretched, over-done and now it hurts. How is that possible? I was asking the same question. I trained a lot before, High Intensity Classes, Yoga, Body Balance. Nothing wrong with that. Now I am training every day, and teaching 7 classes a week. Still nothing wrong with that, I think. But I have probably done too much, too intense and not enough recovery and I already had a hamstring injury… What does it mean for now? Less forward folds, more glute-strengthening exercises instead of stretching and lengthening. It will take time, but it will be ok. I have to back off, because I will start teaching in Sri Lanka after I am finished in Laos, 3 days break only.

What asanas can I do? Inversions 😉, arm balances and even postures in which I use my glutes and hamstrings, but with modifications (this is also good for me, a different point of view of teaching the asanas). And more abs-training, but that’s for the students whehehe. And, a massage, which I had Monday, 90 minutes Lao-massage with some Lao Tigerbalm. A Lao-massage looks like a Thai massage, but less strong. I like it (well, when she is squeezing and bending me maybe a little less 😉).

Besides of my yoga butt, I still enjoy my stay in Vang Vieng. I discovered that I don’t want to go out to a restaurant for having (the same) dinner (mostly white rice and something, noodles, padthai), so I have a new addiction: sandwiches (take away or eat now is the standard question). The baguettes here are lovely and we have found our ‘Sandwich Street’. And they have avocado! Something we don’t get in the hotel, so that’s why it’s lovely to eat it now and then. A very warm welcome to the common things. Mango-sticky rice and sometimes a piece of the vegan hazelnut-chocolate pie are very good substitutes for dinner as well!

I am here for about 6 weeks and everyday I explore something new. You know, toddlers or very young kids always see each day as a new one, everything for the first time. It looks like I am doing that as wel.l.. not always though. I realise how special everything is. That we should be grateful for every little thing. For all what Mother Nature gives to us, without any expectations to get something in return (except for destroying her…). Every day we have a beautiful sunrise, after a freaking cold night. 9 degrees, no heater, sometimes windows can’t be closed properly… but hey, I can feel the sensation of the cold wind, I become aware of it, I just put on extra clothes to protect myself from the cold. It brings people literarily closer to each other 😊.

People in Laos are amazing and they keep on surprising me. Sometimes they are so friendly, sometimes so lazy, and I think they are the worst salesmen I have ever seen. Every evening at 5pm the Night Market starts, clothes, gadgets, food, bags and so on. In my first week I looked into some shops and the men or mainly women didn’t pay any attention to me… watching something on their phone was more important. Once, I even got the look: don’t bother me, I am watching the last episode of my favourite series, you can come back tomorrow. Sounds crazy tho? They don’t want to sell things! And it’s their job, to make money, to feed their kids (who are always there, bunches of babies and toddlers, so cute btw 😊 ). Now, because it is more crowded, they are more pro-active in trying to sell their stuff, especially to Korean and Chinese people. I will buy a Laos-shirt later on, because it has my favourite flower on it (Frangipangi/Cempaka). And being a little bit of a tourist is good for the economy, isn’t it 😉.

We have a X-mas tree in our hotel! I think I will set up a X-mas class, X-mas Vrkasana (tree-pose), Reindeer pose in Virabadrasana 2 (Warrior 2). Deer pose in Yin becomes Reindeer pose, table top will be a side table which is needed for all the presents, and with Kapalabathi (breating exercise) we imagine the big belly of Santa Claus, expanding on the inhale and flatten on the exhale. Maybe we can even imitate the sounds of reindeers in some other breathing exercises 😉. Mmm.. all mentioned poses are good for strengthening the glutes as well 😊.

Ok… enough about yoga. What have I done so far, when I was not teaching? I hiked with Raul to Tham Poukham Cave and Viewpoint Nam Xay, we did kayaking and I visited him in Vientiane (capital of Laos) before he went off to Thailand. I hiked to the 2 viewpoints of Pha Ngern. My gosh, my legs ached a lot after each hike!! I did something for the website, created a new monthly schedule and together with the other teachers spread them out though Vang Vieng. I lay at the pool, had a little swim, read a book, listened to my listening books on my phone, went to the temples, just walked around in the nature, did a small hike with Fara (a volunteer from Spain, really good company), had 2 Lao-massages, prepared new classes and practiced them, I had some chit-chat with the staff here (most of them are really nice). I am always a bit crazy, the cleaning ladies work their ass off, they are always smiling! I once took over the mob and started to sing: I want to break free, I want to break free (for the youngsters: this is a famous song of Queen). They were all laughing at me. And another time, when they lay the tables for breakfast I grabbed a white table cloth, put it over my head and pretended I was a ghost. It resulted in a blue and a white ghost in the breakfast hall 😉. And two completely ruined table clothes, wrinkled all over 😉. But we had fun. And who cares, in the morning, all the guests are sleepy anyway. Oh, and the lady who is making the eggs and pancakes always looks so… serious, almost grumpy. But now, after 6 weeks, she is smiling when I come in. Once, I was the only one having breakfast (9.30am); I was in a singing mood, so I started to sing: you are the dancing queen (Abba 😉) including a dance. The staff thought one split second: she is really nuts, but then, suddenly, everyone smiled and looked happier (I know I can’t sing, but anyway, when I feel like it, I sing, no glass to break in here anyway 😉). Maybe I can start to set up a flash mob 😉! Sometimes I just do nothing, just sit and stare to the mountains, the hot air balloons, listen to the noise of the longtail boats and the karaoke-singing Koreans in their kayak. And I smile. Because it is lovely to see all of this.

Watching sunset during the outdoor class, sometimes watching sunrise during my outdoor practice. Watching people working hard for a bit money and thinking: my life is really good! Of course, I have struggles and some issues, but ain’t that just the way we learn? Really, if you have never been to Laos, I can highly recommend it (as a vegan it is harder to travel, but you will find your way, however also the bottom of your purse will appear quicker 😉). Ok, 2 months in Vang Vieng will be boring if you’re not working, but Laos is a large country, with beautiful nature everywhere and not yet many tourists. The visa on arrival costs $35 (European passports), available at all international airports. I thought Indonesia was my #1 country but Laos has beaten it! What I also noticed: Lao men are quite handsome and Lao kids and babies are really adorable. I am already thinking of adopting a baby 😉. For the party poopers: Free whiskey is available in many places, you can start your whisky tour at 5pm up to 10pm, in different hostels and bars. Alcohol is normal, abuse of the boose as well (people drown doing tubing…). And mushroom pizzas, weed, hash, all available. And for the Voices of Laos – Karaoke bars!

I think this post is long enough to get you through the long winter nights in Europe 😊. If you have any comments, you can post them. Or send me an email, What’s app message. I can’t promise I will reply soon, but I will read it anyway.  For the ones who are really curious, check (and you will find me there in some pictures 😊).

With love,