07 May 2007

Corn Juice

My stomach felt really full last night as I was going to sleep. That corn juice might have had something to do with it. There are street stalls with tubs of coloured, exotic drinks. Each has a little bag of ice in it to keep the liquid cool. I bought a bag of the corn juice which turned out to be quite nice. It’s like drinking cold sweet corn soup- a similar concept to tomato or vegetable juice. The bag of corn juice could have had a couple of cobs of corn in it and maybe that was why it made me feel full. If you buy a drink off the street they will put it in small plastic bag with ice and a straw. Other drinks you can buy from these stalls include a couple of herb drink, one which is like grass jelly, tea, coconut milk and another I haven’t tried which has slices of lotus root floating in it. You need to take care they don’t put too much sugar syrup in these drinks- the really do like sweet things here! I have also had a cold soy drink with grass jelly which was good, and a hot soy drink which was not very good because I completely scalded the inside of my mouth on it. I just didn’t expect a drink in Lao to be so hot. Here people traditionally eat with their hands so most things that are served to you are only a little hotter than lukewarm. Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food are usually served piping hot and it does feel unusual but good when I do eat something steaming hot.

I also tried fresh durian for the first time yesterday. The only time I’d had it was in Australia when my grandma gave me a defrosted piece which wasn’t very nice. I was pleasantly surprised. It is notorious for smelling like cat urine and being banned on public transport and in hotels in Singapore. It tastes strong at first but more fragrant as you eat it and has a creamy texture. A had wanted to buy some in Thailand but I’m glad he changed his mind because it probably would have stank out the bus. It is wrapped in plastic and A thinks this keeps the smell in but I don’t think it does! Also, I’ve heard you can feel pretty bloated and sick if you eat durian and drink beer so I will be warning people against that! I’ve also heard tales that you can die but when I tried to check the evidence on the internet it suggested the people that died probably died of other causes.

My housemate introduced me to lemongrass tea. You just need to put a single green lemongrass leaf in a cup of boiling water. It’s very nice and refreshing- like lemon water but not sour! The weather here is cooling down because the rains have started. I was feeling a bit cold at 26 degrees and I’ve noticed that Lao people are starting to get their jumpers out. I went to a bar for some salsa the other night and when I held a Lao girl’s hand as she was teaching me to dance I noticed here hands were freezing even though she had a jumper on and it would have been no less than 26 degrees. It is very unusual for me to be dancing other than being out at a loud, dark club but this girl has been particularly friendly and was very enthusiastic. I’ve been enjoying the fruits here and I’ve never had such delicious rambutans in my life- they are just over $1 US per kilo. In Australia it seems growing any kind of fruit at home takes a lot of effort with constant watering and spraying. Here our mango tree has dropped us some mangos and our friends just picked some very sweet bananas from their tree and we haven’t had to do anything at all. I had a couple more sinhs (Lao skirts) made and for less than $2 US each they were made absolutely perfectly so I’m happy because my other ones didn’t turn out quite as well. I’ve been watching a few DVDs also because they are cheap and during the past few years I’ve hardly had the time to watch any movies. You couldn’t find a legit DVDs if you tried, or software for that matter. DVDs are around $2 US each and the stores offer better service than the DVD stores at home. Any software you like is around $1 per CD.

My bicycle wheel had a puncture because I was using a faulty bicycle pump which didn’t depress the valve properly. I hadn’t used a bicycle pump for so long I couldn’t tell anything was wrong so I burst the valve part of the tyre. I bought a new pump and an inner tube which was very cheap. This morning I tried to pump it up but the valve of my inner tube was such poor quality it broke. I was a bit annoyed because I wanted to have a go at fixing the tyre myself but had to accept I couldn’t. I took my wheel to my local motorbike repair shop. They fixed it for about $2.50 US including a new inner tube. The first new inner tube he put in was faulty so he put in another one. I will be letting the professionals fix my bike from now on I think- it’s seems not worth doing myself since I’ve had no luck or skill with pumps and inner tubes. Now my bicycle is going much better!

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