it's not for me or any other white person to say what makes someone Lao and what makes them american. but if eating a fried frog (khiat) can be a thermometer of sorts, then kham is Lao afterall. ...and there wasn't even a moment of hesitation; kham knew that that frog was destined to be breakfast, and it was consumed in one confident bite. (and i should also note, that as kham realizes his Lao-ness, he is beginning to correct me on my pronunciation of Lao words. for example, he told me last night that i said chicken butt wrongly... and don't ask, but i did have a good reason for saying that word.)
yesterday, we toured around the Nong Khai area. i think we saw all but 5 of Nong khai's temples (wats), and each had there own claims of uniqueness. the most interesting had a replica of a Buddha that originated from Laos. When the people tried to bring it across the Mekong, a storm arose and sunk the boat and its Buddha to the bottom of the river. The belief is that the Buddha did not want to come to Thailand. Now, in the Hoh where its replica is housed, an inexplicable leak drips continuously from the ceiling. Attempts have been made to discover its source and to repair the leak, but to no avail... so the water is considered sacred, and it is used for blessings. (see the photo of kham's cousins and the pottery).
when i tried to walk into the building i hit my head on a wood pole going across the entry. i was subsequently informed by kham's cousin, Noy, (in the white jacket)that "those who don't believe slam their heads into the wood." (and i hadn't said anything!!)
we also went to the Nongkhai version of Viengchanh's Buddha park. those who have seen the one in Laos will recognize the work - its by the same man. he escaped the communists in Laos and continued his "interesting" sculpture work in Nongkhai. and this park actually contains his body- he died about 12 years ago. he is enshrined in the main building on a stand decorated with lights, shiny paper, and tinsel, with a glass globe covering his body.
and a word about the heat: it is really hot. what else can i say? it is really really hot. yes, jacob, i mean really hot. but when you sit in the back of a truck all day, with all the cousins, eating pineapple and corn on the cob, its not all that bad.
its early here right now; we got up at 5 am. we are leaving for Laos around noon. i think we are gonna stop by a market first and maybe find some fruits to eat that i have never seen before. but the biggest lament of the trip: no mangosteen... its out of season. but mangos are everywhere. they are not yet ripe, but that never stopped anyone. you can eat them "heum" with salt and chili pepper. and i will.