I arrived in Vientiane yesterday. I wandered the streets with no direction and became very sad. I had been advised to skip Vientiane and was told, “It’s just another city.”
As I walked the night market, not looking at anything, I thought about all the wonderful people I met in Luang Prabang. Now, everyone had scattered on their separate ventures, and now here I was wondering why I was there and lonely.
I found an outdoor restaurant and ordered a beer. As I perused the menu, I looked up into the eyes of an older gentleman smiling at me.
“I saw you there, and you looked sad. I thought to myself, what can I do to help? So I smile at you and I see you smile back. That’s better.” He tells me in his French accent.
I needed that. As I devoured my chicken and onion with fried rice dish he exclaimed, “My God, well I know you’re not going to starve!”
I laughed and told him my favorite thing about Southeast Asia is the food.
Soon after he said goodbye, an older couple sat down on the other side of me. Right away, the gentleman asked where I was from. He and the woman had met on a Thai island in 1981 and kept in touch through snail mail all this time. Now, years later, here they were, traveling together.
I told them I had just come from Luang Prabang and the woman said she did too and saw me there. The man weaved his hands back and forth- the flow of people coming in and out of your life.
I was feeling lost for a brief time in this big city, and these strangers lifted my spirits and made me smile. You’re only allowed to be sad for a moment here, so keep your glass half full and someone, perhaps a beautiful stranger will fill it.