How to start a blog? Friends, who neither of them has a blog but certainly a lot of experience in other domains and in questions of life in general, tell me: you just start. Write an entry and post it. Don’t wait with posting because you feel unsecure, because you think what you have to say is of no importance, because you doubt anyone could be interested in what you have to say. Just do it. Ok, so there you go.
Here I am, trying to settle for the next couple of years in Thakhek, Laos. Thakhek is the capital of Khammouane province, which is the central part of Laos. The town is situated on the Mekong river and has a population of around 50’000 to 70’000 people, depending on the source. According to the facebook group, there are between 20 to 30 expatriates living in Thakhek. It is a quiet and peaceful small town which offers the basic services and products of everyday life for local people, though not much beyond that and definitely not catering to the many whims of expatriates such as butter*. How I got here? After working for over 17 years in humanitarian aid and international development myself, I accompany now my husband, who is in the same line of work, to his latest assignment, which happens to be in Thakhek. While I truly appreciate the novelty of my situation, it is at the same time a daunting prospect. As I have been fully integrated in the work process since I was 18, I am not used to not being in a job. Though, having gone through a rough patch in 2016, I’m quite content for the moment not to have to have a regular job but revel in the luxury of having time to pursue my own interests without any monetary worries and the freedom to explore different ideas how to keep myself busy and in the best case, contribute somehow to society.
Inspired by my latest continued education in Corporate Social Responsibility, I am mulling ideas that could bring together my personal interests and my experience as a development professional to start a social entreprise in Laos. Two sectors have emerged so far, tourism and hospitality, or the production and marketing of handicraft items. Besides time, ideas is what I have in abundance. Let’s see if it will actually lead to anything at all or at least something very modest. Or maybe I will just keep busy with my hobbies like crafting and learning to play the piano, which has been on my bucket list forever. I also intend to hone my cooking skills and see what I can do with the resources available from the local market. I will try setting up a kitchen garden, there might be some consultancy jobs coming in, or I take up voluntary work. Or I just take care of myself, learning to meditate without falling asleep might do me even more good!
Done, the first entry to set the stage. Stay tuned! I’m only getting started, there’s more to come.
* Postscript: There is butter to be bought in Thakhek! What I had come to believe to be an urban myth or wishful thinking from the expatriates telling me that there was a shop on a street leading away from a certain restaurants (which is situated at a corner with four streets leading away…) has actually proven to be true. There is a shop, looking exactly like all the others in the area, that has tucked away in the back a fridge with a few sticks of butter in the freezer. The shop is run by an elderly lady whose English vocabulary seems to be made up of the two words butter and cheese. The selection of cheese consists of La vache qui rît and Kraft processed cheese slices.