After 6 weeks in in Vientiane, Lao PDR, you notice a few differences with Bogor – it’s not just the ability to drink a cold beer almost anywhere and the availability of goat cheese salads. One important thing is the number of dogs, which in Vientiane vastly outnumber those at home in Bogor (I will leave you figure out why this is).
During my previous trips, I have used a fairly central hotel. This time I selected one a little further outside the core because it is cheaper as well as closer to the Stade Nationale Du Laos, a great place to exercise at dusk with some laps of the track. However, this area is not as often frequented by tourists, and the local dogs tend to be a bit more territorial; most of the time this is non-threatening, but last night I learned a lesson. Taking a short-cut down a lane to catch a tuk-tuk, I was set upon by four dogs; perhaps my skinny legs look like a bone? I got bitten, not too badly, but any bite is worrying in a place that is not free of rabies.
After escaping from the pack, it was clear that the mad vaccination rush before we left Canada for Bogor was worth it. I took a trip this morning to the Australian Embassy Clinic, which provides the only good medical care in Laos – otherwise the advice is “go to Thailand”. I got the first of two rabies booster shots; if you haven’t had the pre-exposure course you require a shot of Immunoglobulin, which costs a cool $1,000! Luckily there is now no danger of me frothing at the mouth and developing a fear of Beer Lao and bright lights, or a personal financial crisis.
Lessons learned: Gill is not paranoid when she says we need the rabies vaccine; don’t complain about the $500 paid for the pre-exposure series in Vancouver; cover my bony legs; carry an umbrella or other weapon; and be thankful that Bogor has few dogs (a real bonus when hashing).