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Merry Christmas!!

Tis the season...

...to relish fresh fruit smoothies in the sunshine and company of good
friends, watching the smiling faces of Laotian and foreigner alike
meander past.  A great way to pass the holiday, all in all - and
especially to gather up extra warmth and happiness to send back across
the miles to all of you, who I love and think about often (not only at

Craziness in getting here aside, Laos was a very good move.  I've spent
the last couple of days relaxing, relaxing, relaxing.  Wandering the
streets of town for long, aimless hours.  Drinking syrupy-strong lao
coffee, papaya shakes, malty beer and thai tea by turns, depending on my
mood and the time of day.  Snacking on street food (the cabbage bundles
- some kind of peanut paste, with noodles and garlic and greenstuff -
are awesome).  Eating one supper at the market and the next (sometimes
in the same night!) at a fun western-style restaurant, open air.  Waking
early to watch the monks file past my guesthouse door, wraithlike in the
morning fog, to collect food offerings from the towns'people on their
bended knees.  Talking, talking, talking (probably more than he would
like, though he's been remarkably good natured about it!) with my friend
Erik, who (with his very cool family entourage) I came here to see and
finally managed to connect with several hours after their boat came in
on Tuesday afternoon.  Delightful.

Luang Prabang is an old French colonial town - peaceful despite its
busy-ness of foreigners, many of whom are looking for a nice place to
pass Christmas.  Big old wooden buildings lining airy streets at the
confluence of two rivers, temples and monks around every corner,
gorgeous silks and papers locally made, loads of smiling people.  I like
the interplay of holiday expectation on the faces of so many walking
about, with the complete obliviousness of the locals to the "big" day
(except those in the food industry, who are capitalizing well on the
increased demand for turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberries...). 
For me it feels like basically just another day, though one saturated
with an extra dose of joy in my surroundings, and especially for my
friends and family (near and far).  I am smiling.  I hope you are too!

Now a bit of quiet, deep breath on my own, dinner meeting soon.  There's
a special Christmas Eve dinner/drag show going on at a favorite local
spot of mine, and I think half the town's foreigners are going.  Seemed
like too cool and unique an event to pass up!!  Tomorrow, maybe a bike
ride through the rice fields around town or out to a beautiful waterfall
I saw in the summer floods (should be interesting to compare seasons). 
Turkey for dinner (one of my favorites!)?  We'll see!  Sunday I will
have to hit the road again, back to Bangkok on the whirlwind tour, and
to India on Tuesday...

For those Christmas-y among you, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  For those among you
with other special days...peace and happiness always!!  Love, Roberta