Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Laos (page 1 of 14)

Serpico in Laos

There’s nothing like a person being proud of what they do, even when it comes to driving a tuk-tuk or songthaew for a living. And to show that pride, not to mention showing off to your friends, a little help from Serpico a.k.a. Al Pacino wouldn’t hurt.

Back in 2010, Aon, Jeremy Aaron and I went shopping in this big market in Savannakhet and when it came time to leave we needed to take a tuk-tuk. There are dozens of tuk-tuks outside the market and as soon as I saw this one, I figured if the driver was hip enough to know who Serpico/Al Pacino was then this was the one we were going to take. 

On the road to Pakxe

Tonight I attended a ceremony and dinner to commemorate an honorary Lao Consul on the Woosong University campus. During dinner, when it was learned that I am the author of four books, I was asked when I was going to write a book about Laos, which got me thinking. I really should at some point. I’ve already written a short story, “Lemongrass” which is featured in Damaged Goods.

This photo was taken in July 2007 when Aon and I went to Pakxe and Wat Phu. This photo was part of the inspiration for “Lemongrass.”

When you stop in town, whether in one of these songthaew-like (a pickup truck converted into a bus) modes of transportation, or a bus, vendors immediately surround the bus selling their food and beverages. It happens from one village to the next.

Damaged Goods — I have my copy, do you?

In the mail today, my copy of Damaged Goods, a collection of short fiction or flash fiction.


It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s your first book or in my case, your third book, the wonderful feeling you have holding your book in your hands. This is your creation, something you worked hard on many days and nights, writing and revising and in the back of your mind, hoping that people will enjoy reading it one day.

I love the stories in this collection.  Let me rephrase that, I’m proud of the stories in this collection.

Now, how would you like to hold a copy of this book in your hands?

“Lemongrass” — Damaged Goods

Sometimes inspiration (with a little help from your Muse) for a story might be something sensory, in this case the lemony-sour taste of lemongrass.

And a photograph.

One of my favorite Lao/Thai foods is grilled fish seasoned with lemongrass and salt.

I was looking at the photo above (that I took in Savannakhet) as well as the one below (that I took on my first trip to Laos in July 2007) when inspiration (with a little nudging from my Muse) hit me.

What’s “Lemongrass” about?

Study the photos, then read the story in Damaged Goods. Now available through Lulu as well as Amazon (Kindle)

Damaged Goods now available through Smashwords

Damaged Goods, a collection of 28 flash fiction stories is now available through Smashwords.

This collection features flash fiction from 50 words to 1,000 words. The stories range from a soldier coming home from World War II and an Air Force pilot ejecting from his F-4C over Vietnam to the night John Lennon died and slam dancing at the Space Place in Chicago.

I wrote all of these stories while I was writing my first novel War Remains and in many ways, honed my writing skills with them. All but three were published in online literary magazines, and one of them, “Scent of a Woman,” was nominated for a Micro Fiction Award.

damaged goods — now available at Lulu

My latest literary styling, damaged goods, is a collection of flash fiction which were published in online literary magazines the past year.

The 28 stories in this collection, which range from 50 words to 1,500 words, are snippets of life which might be yours or someone else’s. Long after you’ve turned the page, these stories stay with you. From Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War to slam dancing at the Space Place in Chicago, the stories in this collection are an examination of life, which is often bittersweet and revealing.


On the road from Vientiane to Thakek.

Now, there are a couple things going on with this photo. First, “please” is misspelled; okay, that’s a little obvious. Now what got me chuckling is the next part, “butroom.” Yes, it should be “bathroom” but, (no pun intended) butroom makes sense. After all, it is a room for your butt.

Make no buts about it.

(Taken with Sony Bloggie)

Picture of the Day: Laos Papaya

Papaya growing outside our house in Laos.

Nothing like sliced fresh papaya, or spicy green papaya salad.

Vientiane: The times are a changin’

Earlier this year I read on Samakomlao this informative Laos’ Website that The Pizza Company, this popular Thai pizza franchise was going to open their first store in Vientiane and become the first fast food restaurant in the capital city.

I mentioned this to one of my blog readers and said that this could be the beginning of more restaurants to open up in Vientiane.

Sure enough, not only did The Pizza Company open but also Swensen’s a very popular ice cream franchise in Thailand. And then, one afternoon while strolling down by the Mekong River, there it was–Vientiane’s first American fast food restaurant sans that jolly goateed man in white–KFC.

And wait, there’s more. Not long ago I blogged how there were no movie theaters in Vientiane. Not anymore. Next to Talat Sao–this popular market in Vientiane a new building is going up that will have a modern shopping mall and movie theater.

Is this good or bad? There’s a part of me that loves the quiet, quaint charm that Vientiane exudes–a sleepy capital of guesthouses, street vendors selling baguette sandwiches and charming coffeehouses–unlike the hustle and bustle of cities of other Southeast Asia capital cities like Bangkok. On the other hand, it is good for Vientiane in terms of tourism dollars and jobs–at least I hope this works out for Vientiane and Laos.

However, it comes with a price. Vientiane has already gotten noisy and crowded and it is already translating into some minor price gouging: tuk-tuk drivers are charging exorbitant rates for traveling around the city.

Picture of the Day: Row of Buddhas at Haw Pha Kaew — Vientiane, Laos

A row of Buddha statues outside Haw Pha Kaew in Vientiane.

Interestingly, this temple is no longer a temple, but it is a museum of Buddhist artifacts. Of course, if you are up on your history of Laos and Vientiane then you know that this temple once housed the Emerald Buddha–yes, the Emerald Buddha now housed in Wat Phra Kaeo (notice the similarity in name) in Bangkok.

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