“The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude”

As I mentioned yesterday, we took a boat from the Thailand side of the Golden Triangle over to the Lao side. Before we got off the boat, our guide gave us a list of the things we were not allowed to bring back: anything containing protected species products like tiger skin or elephant tusks and any part from the opium plant (flowers, pods, etc.). Then he reminded us that our visit could only last 30 minutes, so we should be on time heading back to the boat.

LaosLand3LaosLand18The one item that is completely allowed back into Thailand is any of the many varieties of Lao whisky. The very first thing we saw in Dao Xian market was a display of the whisky and the different items they include with the alcohol. Some were pretty basic like gingko, but most of these were much stranger. Our guide used tongs to remove the various animals from each pot: a turtle, a snake, a scorpion and finally, the private parts of a male tiger. He offered us each a shot, but I hope it does not shock you that I did not partake. The bottles pictured here were kind of fascinating, but that was as involved as I wanted to get with this stuff.

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The rest of the market sold items that were readily available elsewhere. After the warnings on the boat, I had prepared myself to see random dudes covered in tiger skins hawking their wares. There was none of that. Most of the stalls sold knock-off purses and decor. To be honest, I was quite relieved.

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Toward the end of the market, there was a little monkey chained to the side of the building. He was a firecracker and jumped everywhere within his chain length. He also had a habit of lashing out if you got too close, as a couple from Spain discovered the hard way. Everyone was fine, but they had to jump back pretty quickly to avoid any injury.

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We were all back to the boat 6 minutes early.

On the way back across the river, our guide offered Lao currency to anyone willing to sing. Since I collect currency from various countries but didn’t want to mess with finding Lao currency for thirty minutes, I was game. So I went to the front of the boat and sang the Happy Birthday song to the entire boat, including our tour group of Europeans and a Chinese tour. They were very entertained with my version of Mekong Karaoke.

Next we headed up to the Scorpion temple, overlooking the land side of the Golden Triangle out across Myanmar/Burma. Check back tomorrow for details of that visit.

Title quote: James Joyce, Dubliners

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