Friday, March 13, 2015

Lao Trip 9.2b - New Floating Restaurant

On the way to the market, I walked by a big party going strong, with singers and overflow seating onto the riverside road; probably celebrating a marriage, birth or other family event. I was strongly invited to come in and drink, but it was a table of all-guys and I knew how that would end up. Anyway, I had my “Date with Destiny” awaiting me; or maybe not.

I stopped in at the haircut shack that has now been taken over by mostly younger guys and was well received. I remember only two years ago, the barbers were in their 30s-40s and I wondered if I was putting my life in their hands when they shaved me with a straight razor; I mean, maybe they had a relative who was killed by an unexploded American-made and dropped bomb (UXO)? Now, the barbers are in their early 20s, no straight razor shaves, just electric razor cuts; took my young barber ten minutes to cut mine.

I walked to the outdoor market to get some eats and then headed for Khoun Ten. It was open, this time, but with only one group of Thais as customers. I wasn’t even sure the floating bar/restaurant was really open or whether they were just catering to the Thais as a special deal and allowed me on board as a long-standing customer.

Seeing the lack of people, I kept thinking that something must have happened while I’ve been away. Did the local authorities restrict their operations in some way? Was this a seasonal low (don’t think so) or might they be losing market share to the bigger, newer floating bar/restaurant in Pak Lai?

At any rate, I had my usual: a 640 ml bottle of Beer Lao, a bucket of ice and a glass to drink it all down with. As sad as I am to write this, I must admit I almost breathed a sigh of relief that Nuey/Kay Noy did not show up.

Heading back, I circumvented the big party, checked out the dead and closed Heun Phair, watched the temple gongers and then made my way to the restaurant I’d hung out at in the morning, near the port. Here, I had my usual, as the sun sank low (or, as we all should know, the Earth from viewing location rotated beyond the sight of the Sun).

From my vantage point above, I could see and hear the action going on, on the new and bigger floating bar/restaurant, so after a while, I made my way down there.

It was big and friendly, but not as intimate as the smaller, older places in PL2; darker, too. So, not as easy to make eye contact and different levels to the place made it difficult to see who might be singing karaoke. Customers seemed to be aged 16-22 or thereabouts. Some gambling and drinking guys – also young – were camped on the hillside in what looked like a regular hangout above the floater. Inside, I got some friendly looks, but the layout hindered making friendships. Next time I go, I’ll take the highest point of the barge so I can see better, and try earlier in the day. It was already dark when I first boarded.

After a bottle of Beer Lao and ice, I walked back to the Seyadeth to get on my smartphone, thinking to do a video call to Thip. Here’s where I found out the wifi signal wasn’t strong enough in the guest house and that I would have to go to the restaurant if I wanted to get online.

In the Khem Khong, I was invited to a table of two Falang; two Canadian bicyclists in their fifties (I guessed), who had been school chums together back in Vancouver. One guy seemed pretty shy but nice; the other one had been in Southeast Asia on and off for 20 years and still talked bad about Asians. This always surprises me when I come up upon it. I don’t understand travelling in countries if you don’t appreciate their peoples.

It was a six beer day, stretched from 11am to 9pm, which worked out to about .6 beers/hour.

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