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Wedding Program December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General.
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I think everybody must know by now that the wedding date has moved again. It’s going to be the 1st of January. The festivities will already start the day before. In the morning of December 31st, Veo and I will go to the temple to make offerings and receive blessings. Everyone is welcome to attend. At night my Mom will host a rehearsal dinner for everyone.

The next day, the wedding ceremony will take place in the early morning. The wedding reception and dinner will take place in the evening. Below is a more detailed program. (more…)

Ceremonies December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General.
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There will be two ceremonies that we will be a part of. On December 31st, the day before the wedding, we will have small ceremony in the temple. Everybody is welcome to attend. The wedding ceremony itself will take place on January 1st. Below is some information for people that are not familiar with Lao ceremonies.

Before and during the ceremonies we will not be able to have much attention to explain to people about what’s going on and what to do. Anders Hakansson will help us during the ceremonies. He is quite familiar with what is going on in the temple and during the wedding ceremony, so if you want to know something or if you’re unsure what to do, please direct your questions to Anders.

The first ceremony is in the morning of the 31st and is a blessing by monks in the temple. It’s a simple ceremony that Lao people often do in their lives for many different reasons. In our case, we invite good fortune into our married lives by making offerings and receive blessings from monks the day before the wedding.

Everyone is welcome to attend. When you do, bringing food as an offer is welcomed. It can be anything you can find on the market: rice, fruits, barbecued fish, barbecued chicken, dessert, or any other food found on the market. We will go to the market early in the morning. You’re welcome to join us.

All the food that people bring will be placed on low round tables and presented to the monks. It is at the same time an offer to deceased family members. After the ceremony the monks will eat part of the food. After the monks are finished, people usually sit and eat together. (more…)

Dress code December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General.
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Several people have asked me what to wear for the wedding. Well, we don’t have a dress code. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. There’s going to be a colorful blend of people from different backgrounds, so you’ll probably see an interesting mix of clothing choices anyways. So, no dress code, no need to look like you neighbor at the table.

Some pointers anyway: The wedding ceremony in the morning is going to be simple in character, so maybe Gala style is not your best bet. Nonetheless, it is, of course, a happy occasion, so think festive. Especially for the party in the evening, which will be in a more elegant and classy setting. Most of Veo’s family will be wearing traditional silk clothing for the morning ceremony. Some of Guido’s friends came up with the plan to also buy Lao style silk shirts ($20). I have heard from several people that they want to wear (summer) suites and elegant dresses for the party. Others want to keep it a little simpler. BTW, going all black is considered a funeral only thing in Laos (just black pants or skirts or a dark suite is fine). Also keep in mind that the evenings in December can be a little cool. And whatever you wear, just don’t forget your dancing shoes.😉

For people who also want to come to the temple in the morning of the 31st, please wear something that is not too revealing. Lao women would usually wear long skirts to the temple. You could do the same or wear long pants. Please keep the short skirts and tank tops for another time. And for men, you’d look very silly (if not disrespectful) in your shorts at the temple.

Visa for Laos December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General, travelling.
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You need to get a visa to enter Laos, but getting one is fairly easy. You can get it at all official international border crossings and at the international airports of Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The tourist visa is $30 (or equivalent in Thai baht). It’s valid for 15 days and extendible up to an additional two weeks.

VERY IMPORTANT: Bring the money in Dollars when you arrive, because you won’t find atm’s or money changers at the border. You have to bring a pass photo and fill out the name of the hotel you’re staying at. They also ask for a contact in Laos. Just fill out the name of the hotel you will be staying at.

Money in Laos December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General.
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Prepare to do a bit of arithmetic with currencies when you travel in Laos. No less than three currencies are readily accepted: the local currency, called the Kip, the US Dollar and the Thai Bath. The Kip itself has such little value and its bills come in such small denominations that you’d be walking around with big stacks of cash all the time, if it wasn’t for the US Greenback. You can pay with dollars just about anywhere. In fact many things are priced in Dollars. The exchange rate that sellers use is known to everybody and is fair.

Still you won’t be able to escape the Kip altogether. In most places where you pay with Dollars you will get your change in Kip. That’s fine. You will be able to use that for smaller purchases, like drinks and food and with street vendors. The Thai Bath is also accepted everywhere, but unless you come with some excess Bath from Thailand, you will probably not be using it a lot. (more…)

No liquids in hand luggage December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General.
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I have heard several reports from people who had to throw away their aftershaves, shampoos, lens fluids, etc. before boarding the plane. It appears that the authorities are serious about enforcing the rule of not taking liquids in your hand luggage. You are allowed to bring bottles of less the 100ml. Any bottle bigger than that, even when there’s only little bit of liquid left in there, must be thrown away. So make sure to put your toiletries in your check-in luggage.

What to bring? December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General.
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I wouldn’t bring too much. You don’t need a jacket or a large selection of shoes. The temperature is a lovely 25-30 °C / 75-85 °F in the daytime. Just bring some light clothes. December nights in Luang Prabang can be little cool, so bring a sweater too. It’s easy to have your laundry done, either at your guest house or a laundry service.

Whenever you go inside a building somewhere you should take off your shoes. Sandals and flip flops are ideal for Laos.

With so many rivers and waterfalls you’re likely to go play in the water at some point, but somehow western women in bikini always look a bit out of place in Laos. It’s up to you. Lao people just go play in the water in whatever they’re wearing.

Some of Veo’s tips: Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer; Veo found that female products weren’t so easy to find in Laos. Some people should bring some medical emergency stuff such as painkillers and band-aids. Pharmacies are unreliable and badly stocked.

Do’s & Don’ts in Laos December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General.
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Some western people visiting Laos behave like a Dutch farmer on wooden shoes in a china shop. Some other westerners are tip-toeing around anxious not to upset their delicate hosts. Don’t worry too much about doing something “wrong”. There are no strict rules. There is a lot of respect among Lao people for the different customs and behavior that visitors bring to their country. On the other hand, please don’t be too careless either. Some behavior common to westerners will make Lao people feel uncomfortable. Here’s a few things you might want to know. Most are common sense, and some you wouldn’t necessarily think of yourself.

Where western people greet each other with a hand shake, Lao people greet each other by pressing the palms of their hands and fingers against each other in front of their chest. It’s called a “nop”. Shaking hands is also acceptable for men. Lao people never ever greet each other with a kiss.

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Remember to take your shoes off when you enter a Lao person’s home or temple. Using your feet for anything other than walking or playing sports is considered rude. So be careful not to put your feet up on a table in a public place. Pointing your feet at someone is a very rude gesture in Southeast Asia. Needless to say that when you’re in a Temple and sit on the ground, you do not sit with your feet pointed towards the Buddha statues or monks. Keep your feet behind you or just look at how others are doing it. (more…)

Lao words and sentences December 17, 2006

Posted by Guido in General, travelling.
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It’s always nice to be able to say a few words and sentences when visiting a foreign country. Here you go:

Sabai dee – Hello, How are you?
Sok dee – Good bye (lit. good luck)
Kop chai (lai lai) – Thank you (very much)
Boh pen yang – You’re welcome, it doesn’t matter, it’s fine, don’t worry
Boh kau jai – I don’t understand
(more…)

Book your hotels! August 6, 2006

Posted by Veomani in hotels.
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I’ve been looking online and searching for the best hotels in Laos. I have listed hotels from Vientiane and Luang Prabang, with prices ranging from “Backpackers” to “High Rollers” (high end). Click here for the hotel recommendations or on the tab “hotels in Laos” above to see the list.

I would recommend that everyone book their rooms as soon as possible, especially in Luang Prabang. I have received news from friends in Laos that December is an extremely high season for Luang Prabang and hotels will fill up very quickly. Keep in mind that Luang Prabang is a small town and most hotels/guest houses have very few rooms (10-20 rooms in most places). There is still choice now, but if you wait until September/October, rooms will likely fill up. I have made several phone calls to various hotels/guest houses and already, rooms are starting to fill up.

If you want us to help you book rooms, please let us know ASAP. That way we can also try to book people together in a few places. If you want us to (more…)