Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Day in the Life

7:00 am - Wake up time, I've ignored the roosters for a few hours now, light is starting to stream in through the opaque blinds at the head of our bed and the view of our mosquito net greets me.

7:15 am - A liberal dousing with DEET before I start moving around too much.  Dengue mosquitos are day-biting and are more active at dawn and dusk....after suffering from Dengue last year I'm not taking any chances.

7:20 am - Breakfast time - Bolaven filtered coffee, water to rehydrate and muesli with yoghurt.  Occasionally I'm joined by our resident singing cat and visiting Triceratops beetle Mr Jack (RIP dear friend...)

7:50 am - On the moto and off to work.

8/8:30am - Arrival at work - usually I'm the first one in if I make it here by 8am.  My work colleagues trickle in as the morning starts.  I work with three young Lao women on a daily basis - incredibly talented and gifted - and the wider office group.  The Agriculture Section of PAFO are in many ways my "Lao family", with three younger sisters that I work with (kind of like my own family, four girls, but at home I'm sister number 3!)

Like the Lao women, I wear the traditional Sinh to work - it's such a lovely custom, keeping weaving arts alive, and is a guaranteed way to impress your local counterparts and break down barriers!

8:30 am - At this point in the day (actually, make that any time of the day, almost...) anything could happen - field work, lab work, emails, teaching accounting, teaching computer skills, teaching nothing (as no one told you it was a holiday....don't expect a memo!), teaching plant pathology (oh yeah, that's what I'm here to do!)

12:00 pm - Lunch time, which can activate as early as 11am and run as late as 3:30pm on any given day.  Though, ordinarily it's 12:00-2:00.  If I'm in town I tend to haunt one of two options on a regular basis - Lao Vida Bakery, basically a good Aussie style cafe (although it's run by New Zealanders), and Champadee, a local coffee shop with a good value selection of Asian dishes.  If we're up on the plateau doing field work though it's almost always Moukdavanh in Paksong for a quick bowl of Pho or Fried Rice with egg on top.  Although, I have also had Korean BBQ up in Paksong - with Korean visitors!

2:00 pm - This is when the food coma has set in and it's almost impossible to get work done - sometimes it's like pulling teeth to get things happening in the afternoon as it's only a couple of hours to knock off time.  But if we've been in the field we'll often buckle down and get the isolations done and twice a week my dear Gavin has been taking English language classes with our local staff - which are always fun!
Workshops can always finish with a glass of Beer Lao and a spot of Karaoke, of course!

4:00 pm - The  work day is done!  If anyone is still in the lab at this time I'm astonished - usually until I notice it's pouring outside and they wouldn't leave in that weather unless it was absolutely necessary.  I jump on my bike and head home to decompress and maybe do a spot of yoga.  In my first twelve months I would head off to Lao language classes three times a week too - something I'm really happy I did - Lao isn't widely spoken outside of Lao itself and the locals really appreciate it when you speak it.  Oh, and farmers, they have little to no English - so best to scrub up if you want to know what the hell is going on when you're in the field!

7:00 pm - Dinner time, where Gav and I spend a lot of time at the incredible Dok Mai Lao Italian Restaurant, Nazim's Indian or Pakse Hotel when we eat out.  I still cook quite a bit at home though, it's such a lovely release - and given my guts have been upset more often than not I try to keep it simple and western,  We eat a lot of vegetarian dishes at home now though, lentils and eggs, as I'm not always out at the market in time to be sure that the meat is still good (there is no refrigeration at the local meat market, and I make the single concession of only buying from the market with the stainless steel benches, not the wooden tables covered with lino and occassionally sporting local animals grooming themselves right next to the entrails!)

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