Meow Laos – Vang Vieng, Laos

I never did shake the disturbance in my spirit after watching that cat die. I did everything I could to bring me out of my funk. I went for yummy coffee and wrote for a while perched in the local bakery. I had a great two hour Lao massage which I learned is mostly just pressing rather than the more painful Thai pretzel maneuvers. I went for a tasty healthful Lao meal of fish laap with my friends who tried to cheer me up with gifts. I even played with the street kitties though I admit I was slightly hurt when they turned their noses up at the ball of sticky rice I so kindly offered them.

When a couple of young local girls rode by on a pink bike trailing behind them a hundred balloons, my inner child completely took over. They heard (as did everyone else in a 20 mile radius) me squeal with delight and promptly made a wide U turn back towards me. How the little 10 year old could double her sister and cart around such a wide load without losing one balloon and/or her balance, I will never know. I couldn’t resist the businesslike and very convincing sales pitch of these two little beauties. They took their job quite seriously and I admired their work ethic. After helping me carefully sort through the crowd of SpiderMan, Transformers, Minnie Mouse and other cutesy cartoons paid them 10,000 kip (about a dollar) for a Hello Kitty.

I justified the frivolous purchase by dedicating the balloon to the kitty that died that morning. I solemnly covered my heart with my hand and looked up to the sky honoring the little life that was lost. I know it sounds silly but somehow it made the heaviness feel better. Alana and I giggled as we took turns carrying the bouncy ball of floaty joy reliving a flash of childhood. Who *doesn’t* love carrying a balloon around?

Needless to say, although yesterday ended better than it started, I still felt it was time to move on this morning. After waking way too early, I purchased the 40,000 kip ticket from the tour company across the street from my hotel. I puttered around on the internet while I waited in the lobby for my supposed VIP transportation. A couple hours later, I was herded onto a large coach along with 40 or so others. There were not enough seats for everyone so they placed plastic lawn chairs in the aisle near the front and motioned for the last few to sit down. I was amused in a shocked kind of way.

A little over three hours later, we rolled into the small getaway of Vang Vieng. Most known for its bizarre tubing experience that attracts young crazy backpackers from far and wide, I was a little leery. But the breathtaking nature that surrounds this town is not to be missed. I was completely blissed out as watched the sun sparkle off the river then melt down into karst peaks. I munched on some fresh spring rolls (15,000 kip) while I sipped my orange/carrot shake (5000 kip) which was surprisingly more than enough to satiate me.

After taking the very long way around, I finally found the accommodation that my friend Lisa recommended me. Molina Bungalows were just as she described and for just 50,000 kip I have a new home for the night. They are far enough away from the racket that the drunken revelers kick up yet close enough to partake in the array vittles of offer at any number establishments. I knew the deal was sealed when a jet black brand new kitten wobbled over to me as the owner was writing me in the register. The tiny furry face peered up at me and slowly blinked her somewhat crossed eyes as if trying to focus. If a cat ever needed glasses, it was this one. I scooped her up excitedly and asked her name.

“Her name is Black Cat,” stated Mr. Phet very matter of factly.

“Well…can I take her to my house?” I inquired hopefully snuggling the ball of fur as she started purring loudly.

“Obviously,” he replied with a warm smile and a laugh.

Grateful for cats and kittens.

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