I spent the morning learning how to the ride the motorbike in the school parking lot. I was hot, sweaty, and tired after an hour. I took a break and studied. This morning, we skipped laundry. We made a decision to do our own laundry. So we went and got two big tubs, a scrub brush, and some gloves. Steven actually watched videos from YouTube to learn how to wash clothes by hand. After the first time, I have come up with a routine: 1) Soak the clothes in soapy water for about 15 minutes. 2) Knead the clothes for a few minute 3) Rub them clothes one by one, ring them, and toss them into a tub of clean water. 4) Wash the clothes again piece by piece, ring them out and place them in another tub of clean water. 5) Final wash, ring out the clothes and hang them up to dry. Each tub of clothes takes about 2 hours to do. Maybe when I get better, I will become more efficient.
In the late morning, we return the motorbike to the rental place. After some research, much talking to people, and quick rough calculations, we were on our way searching for an electric motorbike. The price of oil soared in the U.S.A. and many countries, Laos was not speared. We thought it would be a good deal to get a cheap electric motorbike, which is both environmentally friendly and economically feasible. We walked up and down the industrial part of Asiane street under the meltingly hot sun. Since we are taking doxycycline as an anti-malarial measure, we have to be extra cautious about being exposed to the sun. So it’s either covering ourselves with clothes or sunscreen. Last time I didn’t worry about malaria in Laos, but this time, just this week alone, I have lost count of how many bites I have gotten on my poor leg, arms, and places that I didn’t think the sneaky mosquitoes could get to.
Not only there were five or six motorbike sales stores on the same street, there were also numerous Chinese owned shops and restaurants. We have met a few Chinese vendors close to the area we live (Ban Phonkheng). We knew they were Chinese because of the Chinese drama blaring on the TV in the backroom. The way a lot of shops are set up here in Laos is pretty convenient for the family. Usually the store is at the front, and then the family either lives in the back or upstairs (zero commute time!) First we would approach the Chinese owners speaking Lao, but as the buying-selling communication got more complex, we tried out Chinese since the knowledge of Lao is limited on both ends. Oh boy, did we surprise them then. One lady said she definitely gave us better prices because we spoke Chinese.
According to Ginny (the director of Lao American College), there will be 50,000 more Chinese people coming to Vientiane in the next year in exchange for a nice building the Chinese are donating to Laos. Wow, the population of Vientiane is only 140,000 (which also includes many Chinese already). How’s more Chinese going to change the dynamic of the city? Already, there exists some tension between the Lao and the Chinese.