The sun sets on my first night in Laos.  From the balcony of my hotel room, I smell the charcoal and meat cooking at the home below me.  To my right, there’s a rooster crowing.  The weather is warm and humid; the air is thick with smog.  Nights are when this city comes alive.  Food vendors, ex-pats, locals, and street vendors gather on every open  sidewalk in the city.  There is a night market along the Mekong River selling everything from toys to knock-off clothing and shoes.  In a place where you don’t the language, it feels incredibly quiet despite all the excitement around you.