Rachel Flotard: "Obama" Is the New "Hello" (in Lao)


Rachel Flotard is the frontwoman of the Seattle-based band Visqueen. Read her first post about landing in Asia. Follow Flotard's adventures in Laos on her blog.

By Rachel Flotard

Today has already shot through the stratosphere of amazing days in my life.

Last night's arrival in Laos was followed by a quick trip to the hotel after clearing customs about 10 p.m. Built in the 1960's, Hotel Lane Xang is an old, socialist-style hotel once a haven for spies. There are five floors and two are used. Hunter S. Thompson stayed here in 1975 before the fall of Saigon. Right now I'm in Room 231 with flip flops rinsing off three flights and my preconceptions. The hotel is one of the few along the banks of the Mekong river. Most are guest houses. I can't tell them apart.

There are fried sparrows, and other meats that I can't quite put my finger on. It all smells amazing. Dogs have started to chase Justin, our local guide, and he's wary of them now. I want to pet them.

This morning I woke up with a bandana tied around my eyes and felt refreshed despite the time warp. And it's too hot to wear a bra, so the girls are a-swingin, though holding up nicely for their age. Justin is such a marvelous guide, and I met his father, "Booker," last night. He's a doctor, schoolteacher, and general man about everything. I feel safe in his charge.

We walked this morning and changed over some U.S. dollars to Kip (keep). It is so mother fucking hot I can't tell you. The spectacular Lao ladies are riding motorbikes and wearing winter gloves and jeans. I do not know how they do it.

Thinking of food, we went to Sabai Dee (which means Hello in Lao) Coffee. It was painted orange and had modern chrome fixtures, something I did not expect to see. They had a karaoke-book-sized menu of drinks and delights. I ordered a cafe latte and strawberry shake; best I've ever had in my life. Then I had to pee. I walked toward the back and there was a lounge with white leather couches and people drinking coffee, backpacks on the floor. A few Aussies, Scots, Germans.

After I returned from the loo, the TV pictured OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES - CNN predicts. Holy Shit it's happening. I grabbed Justin, and we moved to this back lounge and watched the entire thing unfold. It was 10 a.m. here on Wednesday. Insane.

I have never felt more moved, or more positive about our country. What an amazing moment for our homes and families. I was sobbing on this couch during McCain's concession speech. Sarah Palin is such a twat bag. But I was still sobbing. How could anyone not be moved by this?

Here I am thousands of miles away, Lao smoothie blenders going off through the broadcast as if we were watching Eight Is Enough. Amazing. It felt like New Years Eve, your Brithday, and The Fourth Of July all in one. I am so happy to have experienced it here. We walked into an art "gallery" where this incredible painter replied to my Sabai Dee with "Obama."

"Obama", my comrades, is the new "Hello".

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