Monday, October 8, 2012

Lao Trip 1.3

[Continuing excerpts from my travelog, from our trip into Xayabuli province, Lao, May 2012 - look on the map I keep posted at the top of the sidebar and you can see the route we took from Nong Bua Lamphu to Pak Lai.]

On Day 3 and only our second full day in the town, I was beginning to lose Thip. She was getting bored with sleepy Pak Lai. Not me. I loved it and could have stayed several more days, for sure. Well, I knew we needed to find the market where they sold clothes and this we set out to do.

Up on the main highway that the town is built along, we stopped in for some food and beer. The owner was really friendly – the first Lao we had found to be such, so far. Not that any Lao we had come into contact with were unfriendly. They were just all a little stand-offish. I attribute it as scars from the Indochina War, what we Americans call “the Vietnam War” and what some have termed the “Lao Civil War.” The general personality differences between the Lao in Laos and the Lao in the Isaan made me appreciate our people – who are very friendly and a bit shy – even more.

Our friendly Lao woman directed us to the clothes market, later, and her directions proved accurate. There was a whole complex of shops set-up that we had missed yesterday. Nothing indigenous for sale, just stuff from Thailand, mostly…

On the way back from shopping, Thip arranged a tuk-tuk pick-up for tomorrow morning from a guy who I guess looked trustworthy to her. Then, we went down to the floating restaurant furthest from our guesthouse. We had some food, but it wasn’t that great. The Beer Lao’s were better.

I just loved being on the Mekong like that; watching river life outside the restaurant. Seeing Thiphawan was tired, I encouraged her to go back to the guesthouse and get some rest; I’d just hang.

After Thip left, the daylight slowly faded and the karaoke scene at the restaurant – more a bar, really – started to gear up. Well, I wasn’t really into that unless there were some cute girls to watch – which there weren’t. So, I went over to check the scene out at the other floating restaurant/bar closer to our guesthouse.

The scene at the second floater was dead, dead, dead; just perfect for my mellow mood this night. I had the place to myself, as far as customers went. The guy running the karaoke machine must have been pretty cool, cuz he played a bunch of “Songs of Life” music, including Pongsit and Carabao. I had a couple of Beer Lao’s here, just letting my mind wander…

Here I was travelling the haunts of my fictional hero Rick, the retired CIA operative (from my first and second screenplays written in 2008 and 2009). And here I was at last in Laos, after so many years wondering what it would be like… It struck me there in that floating bar on the Mekong that this would be the high point of the trip. Thip wanted to go to Vientienne and I just don’t have fun in any city. Santa Barbara and Nong Bua Lamphu are about as big as I can handle…

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