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Setting up the office in Vientiane

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As Finland Futures Research Centre opened the office in the capital of Laos, Vientiane, I had the honor to be the one setting up all the practical matters in the house. The house is used for office and living purposes and there will always be staff in the house. I arrived to the city 30th of March and was ready to pick up the keys for the office next day. It is my first time in Laos, and the first evening already I really liked the city. Streets were full of street vendors, steam rising from the pots, Lao language echoing in my ears, warm wind from the Mekong – they all infiltrated into my mind. Calm, but at the same time lively atmosphere fascinated me! Quite often the first impression is the one that counts and that happened to me as well – I still feel the same way! During the first two days I also remember thinking that I could not see any rats on the streets, and because of that I considered the city to be very exceptional Asian city in this sense. Very little I knew that time.

First days I was busy to shop the articles we needed for living in the house, such as basic things like sheets, towels and kitchen utilities. Shopping in a new city is always time consuming but fun! Quickly I got to know these helpful and friendly people of Laos. As an example, a very helpful worker in the mall unpacked and set up the whole tent-like mosquito net for us – just to see the size of it – and eventually it appeared to be too small for our office beds. It felt almost a crime not to buy it as he made such a hard work with presenting it for us. I learned quite soon also the most important sentence in here: “baw pen nyang”; “It is ok”, or “Never mind”. I was also amazed about the supply of the goods – I did not expect it to be so easy to get the things we had listed in Finland.

After staying a couple of days in the house, I found out that in addition to me and my colleague, there were others living in the house as well. Rats. I did not see them on the streets – maybe because they were all living in the house with me! One morning a rat was climbing up the stairs when I was coming downstairs. I think we both got equally frightened – and maybe the rat heard Finnish swore words for the first time in its life! Later I and my colleague met a rat also in the kitchen – poor rat was so confused that it ran first towards me and then my colleague – causing of course a lot of jumping and screaming in the kitchen. After these a couple of involuntary meetings, I decided to offer poisonous dinner for those little animals. It was a success –they seemed to enjoy the meal I prepared! I stayed tuned for the results. I knew the disadvantages of the poison, as when using it, I could not be in charge of the recycling process of the remains. So, as I was afraid of, it turned out that the rats were killed inside the walls, and I think it is easy for you to imagine the smell of a rotten rat body in almost +40C degrees heat. Luckily the worms are very active in here, so the smell of the house was gone in a few days. So, for now, I declare the Finland Futures Research Centre office in Vientiane as a rat-free area! And at the same time I am being a bit afraid that they will return…