73. Solving a Mystery

Solving A Mystery: As the shirt promised, Smile Bar Island is an actual bar, on an actual island, with lots of actual (beer soaked) smiling. And by complete accident we stayed in a guesthouse in Vang Vieng, Laos that happened to overlook Smile Bar Island, perched as it is on a large lump of sand at the edge of the Nam Song river. Obligated by ownership of the shirt we spent a wonderfully lazy day in these little huts, drinking, eating, swimming, enjoying the cycle of an insufferably hot day that ended with dozens of freedom-bound local schoolchildren streaming through town and plunging* into the river all around us. They immediately took a liking to Amy, as they aways do, partly because her pale complexion reflects bright sunlight like a fishing lure. People like shiny things. And every time I went to look for her in the river, she was being dragged around by swarms of squealing, giggling girls who wouldn’t let go until they realized I could take their picture and then immediately play it back for them. Hilarity ensues and peace signs are flying all over the place, because showing the peace sign has become the universal symbol for “I’m having my picture taken.” Peace signs, splash fights and cheap beer – Smile Bar Island delivers.

* Generally speaking, there are two types of swimmers in SE Asia – those who swim fully clothed (jeans, button down shirt, belt) and those who strip down to their tighty whities. Some combination of self-confidence, family background and religion must account for the difference, although there are gender and age patterns too. Most of the fully clothed swimmers are women and children, though children will quickly strip to their skivvies if they see at least one other kid doing it first. Grown men are predictably wading around the ocean, lake or river wearing only their best pair of briefs, alternately wielding fishing nets or beer bottles.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Sloan , you look great in that t-shirt. Love erything yuou and Amy have sent. Denyse

  2. Jege (Jen) says:

    Smile Bar Island looks so interesting, I had to google it. Apparently, photographs of the signs there are not allowed. So, AWESOME shot of the sign. :)