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Thank you for your kind reply

UPDATE 8/5/09: I just had to share this one today.  It may even be better than the Italian e-mail…

We understand that we have booked this booking a long time, but clients so late reply to confirm us.

So, we are very sorry to say CANCEL this booking because our Clients have decided to changed this trip.  Therefore, we apology this inconvenience Cancellation and looking forward to hearing your early reply with acknowledgement.


Thank you for the acknowledgement of your confirmation.

Thanks with best regards,

I will endeavour to reply to your email on my return.

Thank you so much for your kind information.


These are actual comments from e-mails.  I have the pleasure of reading these types of comments in e-mails I see everyday exchanged between reservation agents in Laos.  Long story as to why I am auto-copied on the exchanges, but if nothing else, the e-mails give me a good chuckle everyday.  Here is the typical…


A:  Please kindly confirm the following booking.

B: Thanks so much for your booking. I’d like to confirm your booking:

A: Thank you for your kind confirmation.

B: You are welcome for the confirmation.


But today topped the cake.  I could not stop laughing when this one came in:


Dear All,

Please treat the above clients as VIP Treatment as they are very important (Italian) – I have just been informed by agent today that they are now complaint everywhere for slowly check in and they do not want to wait too long.

Therefore, please try to do the best for them to avoid any problem for us.

A – please hurry up prepare their immigration formality to avoid any delay for them. 

B – could you please serve them in house wine for them during Dinner at X as compliment from “Y”?  And prepare separate table for them from another passengers.

C – please kindly inform your guide at Z to do the fast check in and do the best services for them.  prepare separate table for them from another passengers during meals. 

Thanks all of you in advance for your kind co operation.


Aside from being hilarious to me, it hopefully serves to all as a warning how well the staff are aware of problem customers.  Clearly this group of Italians are just too impatient.  Can’t be bothered to wait for anything.  And they don’t like other travelers.  I find this hard to believe, as Italy certainly runs at its own pace and most Italians love a good group of fun people!  But I guess when folks travel to exotic places and are far away from home, they step outside the mold and get uncomfortable in new surroundings.  Too funny, though.

Thanks you for kindly reading this information.  Your kind comment is most welcome.

Thank you with best regards,


Just another day at the office…

I’ve already said it.  I’m a lucky girl.  This is a photo I took at Kamu Lodge, Apple Tree’s eco-lodge in the heart of the Laos forrest, just a couple hours from the UNESCO heritage city, Luang Prabang.

I love the lodge for the chance to get a way from modern civilization.  There are no phones, no internet connections, no cell signals.  It’s a complete chance to reconnect with nature and rejuvenate your soul.

I went to sleep in my tent to the sounds of crickets, birds, frogs and all sorts of other creatures who sung me to sleep and woke me up, all at the same time.

I was here to evaluate our property, to see how we can improve, how to best market this wonderful place, but damn, I’m lucky to “have” to do this job!  What a refreshing environment from which to work!

On the Bright Side,


In Love with Laos

We Want You to be Happy – This sort of sums up the Laotian spirit.  This sign was on the retail shop in the Luang Prabang airport.  You can also get a Smile Burger, if you need to step up the pep!

I love love LOVE Laos!

I “had” to go to Laos this past week for work.  I know, I know.  I can hear your shouts of sympathy already.  Thank you.  ;p  The goal was to get familiar with our hotel, Villa Maly in Luang Prabang and Kamu Lodge, our eco-lodge 2 hours up the Mekong River, nestled in the Laotian forest.  Have I mentioned how much I love my new job?

Not only did I fall in love with our properties, I found one of my new favorite places in the world.  Going to Laos, and particularly Luang Prabang, is like stepping back in time.  Slow pace of life, friendly people, buildings no more than 3 stories high, natural beauty, no honking horns and a general sense of peace and serenity.  My kind of place.

While I mostly focused on work, Kurt and I did get out a bit to take in the night life.  We stopped by the night market our first evening there, where we bought these super comfy slippers.  I spent all of $8.00, but could have done a lot more damage had I really put my efforts into shopping.  We then went to the main street and found a great Laotian restaurant.  We tried 4 different dishes, all very tasty with unique flavors.  I loved the Lao basil.  It’s a great herb, somewhere between Italian and Thai basil.  We also ate a fired bamboo.  Yu-um-my!

With our terrific co-workers, Marie-Helene, Henri-Pierre, Aurora and Phone, we enjoyed some Luang Prabang night life in the way of the local disco.  And here, too, was like a tour of the good ol’ days.  When young men and women dance together, they first greet each other with hands together and a bow.  And then they dance without touching.  The Laos ladies and men move their hands around similar to a Hawaiian style hula.  It’s wonderful.  The young kids love to do line dances and I enjoyed trying to catch on.  What a fun night.

Kurt is a running maniac (way beyond enthusiast, folks) and had all of us up at 5:30 in the morning for jogging in the dark.  My first morning out, we ran 5k.  Let me back up for a moment and tell you how much I dislike running.  I’m good for a quick sprint, say from home to 1st base, a 50 yard dash, or running for my plane.  But I don’t really run, unless it’s for my life!  While HP and Marie-Helene may have become semi-hooked, I’m not giving in just yet!  I like my walks and hiking and mountain biking!

Having said that, it was quite humorous to jog in the dark and climb the stairs of Phousi Mountain.  How is that pronounced?  Think kitty cats.  There is even a Phousi Market.  Both of these monuments are (unfortunately) named after one of the founders of the city.  We all kept pronouncing it poo-say, just to avoid the giggles. But giggled anyway.  How can you not?  It’s not every day you say, “I climbed Phousi Mountain.”

After a couple of luxurious nights at Villa Maly, we took the boat up the Mekong River to Kamu Lodge.  On the way, we stopped at the Pak Ou caves, home to more than 5000 Buddhas.  It’s a religious site where even the King used to come to worship.  You can see some photos HERE.  I had a little too much fun taking photos of all those Buddhas.  It was pretty cool to learn that some of them have been there a couple hundred years!

Kamu Lodge is an eco-lodge.  We share the property with the local Kamu tribe.  I LOVED visiting the village and meeting all the little kids.  They got a kick out of seeing their picture on the LCD screen of my camera.  Bless them.  I hope you’ll take a look at my photos.  At Kamu, there is no internet connection or cell phone reception.  You unplug from all of that and get heavily connected with nature.  The sky is black and the stars are bright and sparkly.  You go to bed early, letting the crickets and frogs sing you to sleep.  And in the morning, it’s the birds and monkeys which call you awake.  If you really want to unwind, this is the place to go.  Layers of life and complexity are quickly stripped away.  I could have stayed a week and not gotten enough.

On our last leg of the week, Kurt and I traveled to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.  I was pleased with the warm weather – a balmy 28C degrees (82F). And while it was the capital, there were still no honking horns.  I met more of my colleagues and we all enjoyed a night out.  We had Lao Beers (very tasty) at a restaurant where you were looking at Thailand across the river.  And then enjoyed a sort-of-Korean-sort-of-sukiyaki style BBQ meal.  Very nice.

We only managed to see one monument while in Vientiane, as our one day there was filled with meetings.  But nonetheless, Laos captured my heart enough that I know I will be back soon.  How nice it is that the flight from Hanoi to either city is a short 50 minutes!  I am going to love to be able to say, “I’m going to Laos for the weekend!”

On the Bright Side,


What Inauguration?

Kurt, Marie-Helene and I had just returned from a lovely evening of gin & tonics at a quaint bar and then a terrific dinner at L’Elephante, a popular restaurant in Luang Prabang.

It was about 10pm and I cracked open my laptop to check messages and write my status on Facebook, “…can’t help but smile as she watches the Obama inauguration live from Luang Prbang, Laos!!!”  And then I shut my computer down and got comfy in bed, excited to watch.

With all the pre-inauguration nonsense, (and a delightfully full belly and a few gin & tonics in me) I started to fall asleep.  But I woke up about 11:30pm, ready to witness this great moment in history.  Luang Prabang and Washington D.C. are exactly 12 hours apart.  So where I was, Obama would be inaugurated at midnight.

At about 11:55, one speaker (forgive me, I lost track who was introducing who) said something like, “…who will swear in Vice President, Joe Biden.”  And at that exact moment, right after Joe Biden was named, my screen turned to snow.  I checked the cables, I changed the channels.  Nothing.  I called the front desk.  I went to the lobby. All of the TVs in the hotel experienced the same problem.

I thought perhaps the cable box was turned off, but later learned that it was most likely censorship.  Strange that we were allowed to watch all the pomp and circumstance, but not the swearing in?  As peaceful as Laos is, it was a reminder that it remains a communist country.

I’m just really disappointed that I missed one of the most significant moments of my country’s history.  Major bummer, dude.

On the Bright Side,



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