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Snake and Scorpion Liquor, a Perfect Present Strange Medicine 

Snake and Scorpion Liquor, a Perfect Present

On a trip to Laos, recently, my parents found the perfect birthday present for Michelle: matching bottles of snake and scorpion booze. Recognizing the fact that my mom doesn’t drink, this strange gift oozes with awesomeness. “Don’t drink it all at once,” my dad said. Unlike my mom, he’s a fantastic tippler. The Ayi now claims she’s too frightened to clean the bathroom, but she’d been too frightened to clean it for years. And what’s more Chinese than liquor infused with weird crap? (Remember my experiences with snake penis booze?)…

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Incredible Low-Tech Laotian Merry-Go-Round Theme Parks 

Incredible Low-Tech Laotian Merry-Go-Round

When I was living in Kathmadu 20 years ago (yow!) this summer, I found this awesomely makeshift ferris wheel in a nearby theme park.  A teenager would stand in the middle, and walk from one bar to the next, giving passengers a slow, staggered ride. Much more recently in southern Laos, down on the island Don Khon, I stumbled across a close cousin: the makeshift merry-go-round or carousel.  I think there was a generator giving it a little power, but the operator had to push it around for it to keep…

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Be an Old Man, Have a Young Wife, in Laos What The Fortune Teller Told Me 

Be an Old Man, Have a Young Wife, in Laos

We got lucky in Don Khon — the island’s annual celebrations were well underway the weekend we were there. Here in southern Laos, evidently “big celebrations” means “get mad drunk and hit the temples,” cos that’s what everyone did. The Wat laid out a huge spread, with hand-cranked carousels, dart gambling, cover bands, and tons of beer.

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The Craziest Holy Sculptor in Laos Devoted Obsession Offbeat Museums 

The Craziest Holy Sculptor in Laos

The long, slow, dusty bus-ride cost 20 cents and took lord knows how long. But eventually it delivered us to the incredible Buddha Park. You see, 40 or so years ago, some loony Lao was hiking along a remote mountain trace, accidentally tripped, and fell into a hole. A deep hole. It was a lot like Alice in Wonderland. But instead of meeting his quick, bloody end, he… fell into the padded lap of a meditating guru. Nice! The faller and the padded became quick buddies, and traveled Laos and…

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Vang Vieng: The Silliest Place in Laos Strange Tourism 

Vang Vieng: The Silliest Place in Laos

Imagine the most pristine, untouched, slow-moving river. A place that seems from a dream. It carefully wraps around banks of green, where water buffalo and cows nap in the shade, and wake to sip from small pools. Four novice monks hold umbrellas for shade as they cross a rickety old bridge. A fisherman slaps his bamboo rod in the water to punt himself a few feet upstream. Up above, two volcanic mounts bring Mordor to mind. Beauty. Absolute pure remote beauty. You float through this serenity on an inner tube,…

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