. We saw a sign advertising a malaria clinic and tried to find it thinking Mike and I could get some malaria medicine since we're heading into big time malaria country. No luck however. We did walk to some clinic and, sweating and red faced, I asked the guy standing outside, "Malaria?". He started laughing at us and told the ladies behind the counter what we said and they all laughed too. That's a common theme for us here, crowds of people laughing for what seems to us to be little or no reason. Oh well, at least they're happy. The guy pointed vaguely down the street and we left, trying to follow his directions and ended up at 7-11 buying ice cream. Then we gave up on malaria and walked over to a nearby Wat or temple. It was pretty cool, a big 45 meter tower and a nice looking building. We talked to a friendly monk for a bit and then struck out towards a big park that goes around a lake. On one side of the lake is a famous Wat that has a huge tower with nine tiers each representing a different spiritual level. We were walking towards it through the park when we saw a bike rental stand. Thinking to get more mobile we approached. There, we were greeted with a sight too amazing to pass up. A three person, hot pink, Hello Kitty Bike!. I couldn't believe the guy rented it to us as it was cleary built to hold tiny school girls. Off we went, laughing madly, swerving all over the bike path and narrowly avoiding passerby. What struck us as especially funny was that at first, no one took any notice of us
. Here we were on the most ridiculus bike ever laughing our heads off and shouting and not one person even gave us a double take. We rode all around the lake and finally started getting some looks on the far side. When we turned into a parking lot, three dogs came out of nowhere and started barking and chasing us. That was pretty fun and for some reason, we didn't even crash. Anyway, the bike was great. Afterwards, Mike and I played ping pong while Katy slept in a hammock. The ping pong table was outside right next to the lake and the wind made the game a lot more challenging. When we tired of that, we walked towards the big Wat. It was very beautiful. We didn't get to ascend it as we arrived close to when it was closing. Next, we took a songthiew (truck/bus mobile) back towards town and got off at a night market. Katy met a woman who was an english teacher and whose name meant "Sunset". They ate stir fried noodles together while Mike and I had stir fired egg and mussels. Did I mention that the food here is awesome? Mike and I were walking down a row of the market after eating when we spotted a food stall selling all kinds of fried bugs. I had previously stated that I would eat a big water bug if it was being sold and I was forced to put up. I bought the bug and after some trepidation, bit its head off. Ewwwww, its eyes were bitter and the meat tasted weirdly like turkey. I'll post a video of that since it's pretty funny. After chewing the exoskeleton for a while, a woman came up and showed me that you're not supposed to just bite the thing, you have to peel the carapace back and just get to the meat inside
. I couldn't eat another bite at that point however, and threw the rest away. We were about a mile from the hotel and I felt the first urgent pangs of diarrhoea. With Katy and Mike laughing all the way, I managed to hurry back in time without any accidents, both personal and motor vehicle. On our way we walked through another market with whole frogs for sale, chunks of shark and all manner of squid, all uncooked and unappetizing to the uncultured eye. We had an uneventful night last night, went to bed around ten and woke up at eight today with the idea of catching a bus northwest to Loei and from there winding our way north and then east to Nong Khai where we'll cross into Laos. Our visa in Laos goes from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2 and then Vietnam from Jan 2 to the 17th.
Yesterday, we woke up fairly eary and had our standard breakfast of noodle soup with pork. After that, we headed over to the Laoation consulate to get visas to enter the country. We took two wrong buses and finally gave up and hailed a tuk tuk who over charged us but at least we got there. The Laos visa stuff went off without a hitch and then we walked over to the Vietnamese consulate to get a visa there too. That one went well and in an hour we accumulated two visas each at the cost of around 4000 baht or about 120$ for both the visas. On the street on the way to the Vietnamese consulate, we bought some pineapple and Mike got some yellow watermelon which was really good and tasted like a regular melon, just more yellowy. After the consulate, Mike bought some catfish on a stick and Katy and I bought a huge lunch. It was good and nice to sit in the shade since it was hot and sunny. After eating, we walked the streets, getting somewhat lost in the process by taking side streets which deadended a lot