72. Next Time You Are Here

Next Time You Are Here, Hopefully I Will Miss You: Since landing in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic two weeks ago, we’ve found ourselves in several entertaining conversations with locals who are studying and really, earnestly, trying to improve their English. The first was the shy young monk above, who was kicking around Vientiane’s grandest religious monument, in part to escape the boredom of daily life at his temple and in part to snare some native English speakers for practice. It was the first time we really got to hear about monastic life from the source, him being an impressive seven years into a ten year course of study. Since he’d been studying English for most of those years, we could chat about more than the usual “where are you from, how long have you been here, why are you 30 years old and without children?” subject matter, which is a rare and precious moment for us in this part of the world. In fact, we were so excited for our first monk talk that we didn’t do anything to help correct his mistakes, the best of which was his optimistic goodbye, next time you are here, hopefully I will miss you.

Me: I really liked it when he said he hoped he would miss us the next time we visit.
Amy: He was so adorable.
Me: We probably should have corrected him. I think that was the whole reason he was talking to us.
Amy: But it was so cute!

It’s true, he was sweet and adorable and English mix-ups are the cheapest entertainment we get these days. Similar story with the kid who approached us in a park outside of Vientiane the next day. He stalked me for ten minutes or so before gathering the courage to ask if I would help him understand the meaning of some words in the book he was reading. The first word was “penetrate.” I danced around that one and about a dozen others before he found out we were from the U.S. when it then became, in his words, “the luckiest day ever.” He’s studying around the clock to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language so that he can apply for scholarships in the States. He peppered us with qestions like “how many Lao students are currently studying in the US?”, “how big is Virginia Tech?” and “how do I pray for scholarships?”

Me: I think you’re mixing up the words “pray” and “apply.”
Him: Ahh, but they are similar?
Me: Not really. When you apply, you make a formal request for something.
Him: That sounds like praying.
Me: True, but I don’t apply for my bus driver to drive safely today. I pray for that.
Him: I pray for that too.


  1. mikey says:

    As a phan of the pho, this part of your trip I was especially interested in hearing about. I know Amy won’t have any. But, Sloan…do tell…or is it just curry dishes and the like?

  2. S says:

    The pho beef noodle soup you love is predominately a Vietnamese thing and it’s mostly eaten for breakfast. It’s all over Laos too though and they claim their own version of it (also popular for breakfast, as are baguettes with fried eggs and a mystery meat pate inside). I honestly can’t tell the difference between Vietnamese and Lao pho. It’s such a simple meal, I wouldn’t say that it’s any better here than in the States, except for the context. Although with all of the ridiculous drivers in Korea Town, you’re probably getting that too.