On Friday, February 12th, we flew from Luang Prabang back to Vientiane to spend one more night there before heading home to Malaysia. We stayed in a different hotel this time around – the Dhavara Boutique Hotel, and since I had some credits with the website we use for booking accommodations when we travel we decided to book a suite. If I remember correctly, the suite we stayed in was their “Mekong” suite, and it was fantastic, complete with complementary wine and a nice little balcony. The hotel was only a few blocks from where we stayed several days earlier when we passed through Vientiane, so that meant we were just a few blocks from the night market. Carolyn was still trying to set a world record, so of course she visited the night market on our final evening in Laos, which meant that she went every single night we were there.
The only other thing we really did on our final day in Laos was to go to the Hard Rock Cafe, which was brand spanking new and still partially under construction. They were still training staff, so our waitress was horrible, but the manager in charge of the seaters/greeters and several of the other staff members were all fantastic. The colors colored some coloring books the staff gave them, there was some good music playing, I had several ice cold beers, Carolyn picked up HRC t-shirts for herself and the kids, and we talked and joked with the staff for quite a while. One lady in particular was absolutely in love with Sebastian, so he was carried all around and given lots of hugs, kisses and pinches by all the girls there. It was fun and a good cap on a wonderful week in Laos.
The following morning Carolyn and I were both sad to be leaving. We wished that we had stayed for another night in Vientiane and skipped the one night we planned in KL. Laos is such a wonderful country to visit and 7 nights wasn’t nearly enough. The good news is that Laos ain’t going anywhere soon, so we definitely plan to visit again in the future.
When we got back to KL we had a really bizarre experience at the airport. A girl would had sat near us at the Vientiane airport as we waited to board our flight came up to me in a panic after we had cleared customs, immigration and baggage claim as Carol was topping up her Celcom credit on her phone. I had just taken out some cash from an ATM, but since I recognized her from Laos and our flight it never crossed my mind initially that she was maybe scamming me.
She came up smiling but looked extremely nervous. She told me some guy who she didn’t know was following her. She said he had followed her outside and back into the terminal, and was sitting next to her there at the arrivals area and looking at her phone. I asked who it was and she didn’t give a good answer, but at the time she appeared very scared so I let her know I’d help her in any way I could and that she’s safe, just let me know who it was and I’d take care of it. She nervously said something that was hard to understand, but sounded like “that guy with backpack and hat”. I looked over at a crowd of people and saw who I thought may be the guy, so I pointed and asked “Is that him, with the black jacket right there?” She was so nervous or scared that it wasn’t an emphatic “yes”, but she seemed to nod in affirmation.
I said that I would go tell him to leave her the hell alone right as Carol walked up. The girl’s demeanor changed and she would hardly talk with Carol standing there. I explained what was going on to Carol, that some guy was following this poor girl and she was afraid. I looked over to point out the guy to Carol but I couldn’t find him, so I asked the girl if she wanted me to go talk to security with her to let them know what was going on and she said “no, I just sit there” and pointed to some empty seat. She indicated that she was waiting for a friend who wouldn’t arrive for another 2 hours and that’s when I started to feel like something was up and this may be a scam. My thoughts were racing — she went outside supposedly, but was waiting for a friend to arrive in 2 hours. She was very talkative about her concerns until Carol and the kids came up, then she wouldn’t say hardly a word. She wouldn’t clearly identify the guy and she refused several times to go with me to security that was sitting nearby. I asked “What do you want me to do?” I had given her options, but she didn’t say what she needed. She didn’t want me to approach the guy she hadn’t identified and she didn’t want to speak to security.
I was really starting to feel uncomfortable with the situation at that point, particularly with my kids there, so I said to the girl, “come on, we are going to speak to that security guard right now”. We went back and forth 3-4 times with her saying nervously “no, it’s ok, I will just sit and wait there” and me saying again and again, “No, we need to alert security.” Finally I said “Come on, follow me.” She looked REALLY nervous at that point and she followed far behind me as I walked the 40-50 feet over to a guard. She didn’t come up to the podium where he was sitting, but stood about 15 feet away. I went up to the guy and said “Sir, this lady just approached me, and I recognize her from my flight that just landed. We flew in from Laos. She says someone is following her and I told her we should alert security to help, so I’m letting you know because I’m leaving now.”
The officer looked very interested and demanded to know “which girl is it?” I turned around and pointed directly at her but she wouldn’t make eye contact. Carolyn said later she kept looking over at some guy in the crowd and was nodding to him and communicating with him. I didn’t notice that because I had my back to her the entire time except when I turned around for 5 seconds and pointed her out to the guard. The guard asked if I knew her. “Absolutely not. I recognize her from the Vientiane airport and our plane though.” He asked if she spoke English; “Not very well. She may be Filipina.” He said she looked like she was from Laos, not the Philippines. He asked which guy was it, and I explained that she was hesitant to clearly identify him but I pointed to the guy who I thought she indicated. That guy was mad dogging me — he looked like a little Malay guy to me, dark brown skin, maybe 5′ tall (really short, could have been under 5′), and probably weighed all of 90 pounds. He was glaring at me though as I pointed at him.
The guard said he’d keep an eye on her, so I thanked him, shook his hand, walked to the girl and told her the guard would keep an eye on her and told her to not leave the area until her friend arrived, then I got my family out of there as fast as I could.
As we walked away I told Carol to keep an eye out for that little guy and anyone else watching us too closely. Our heads were on swivels as we corralled the children towards the taxi rank exit as fast as we could. We hired a van taxi and waited on the curb for about 10 mins for the guy to run get his van, and finally we were off. We both agreed that it was most likely a scam but that I did the right thing to warn the security in case it wasn’t and she really needed protection. She never said “confront that guy”, “please go to security with me”, “can you give me a ride”, or anything else to indicate what she wanted me to do. We both thought that if Carol hadn’t have shown up that there was a good chance this lady was going to try to get me to give her a ride somewhere to “protect” her and then those guys working with her would rob me. Who knows… It was beyond strange, primarily because she simply would not show who it was, she never said what help she actually wanted, she refused to go up to security with me and told me not to go to them that it would be fine and she would just sit and wait when I said we should go there.
We got our car and headed into KL. Even though it was the Saturday after Chinese New Year the highways into the capital were basically empty. We couldn’t believe how light the traffic was. The air was also clean and you could see the Petronas Towers from a long was off. When we got to our regular hotel in Bukit Bintang the lady at reception who has been checking us in for 3+ years said “Welcome back!” and asked about all the kids. Carolyn went to pickup dinner at El Cerdo while I stayed in the room with the kids. I used the time to prepare for the following day, Valentine’s Day. I called the concierge and asked for a dozen roses to be delivered at 8am in the morning. He called back 30 minutes later and confirmed that he had made the arrangements. Perfect!
Jean made it back from El Cerdo with half a roasted piglet and some other stuff. The piglet was pretty good and the girls enjoyed checking it out. After that Carol went shopping and I fell asleep with the kids.
The next morning we were woken up be a knock at the door at 8am. Carol answered the door and I heard someone say “These are for you, ma’am.” She was all smiles when she came back into the bedroom. Happy Valentine’s Day! I ordered us room service while she took a shower and got ready, then she took Zoe shopping for a couple of hours and they both got a pair of Birkenstocks and some other stuff. I really enjoyed spending more time with the two little ones. We didn’t check out until about 2pm, and before that we took some photos of us with the kids.
We finally drove home and unbelievably we made it back from KL in just three and a half hours. It was the fastest we’ve ever driven that route, which usually takes us 5-6 hours. The traffic was almost non-existent…
Here are the photos from those final few days of our vacation, spent in Vientiane and KL: