Sunday, May 06, 2007

211206 bride wanted for Phongsaly-based Yunnan guy

Mr ZSH is a middle-aged Chinese from Jinghong in Yunnan province, China. He owns the tallest hotel (4 storeys, complete with KTV lounge) & rubber plantations in Phongsaly province, Lao PDR. He claims to have a piano in his Jinghong home, enjoys singing karaoke, & owns a car. He is interested in starting a charcoal production business in Lao, for which he is seeking to hire two Lao labourers to chop & burn wood. More importantly, he is seeking a young, Chinese-speaking lady companion with progressive thinking to be his life partner. Interested parties may contact the cat for his mobile phone number.

The cat had sat down to dinner in the restaurant of Phongsaly Hotel, watching the 中国中央电视台 (China Central Television) channel news programme showing on the wall-mounted TV set - the very same channel the cat's parents tune in to back in Singapore. Mr Hotel Owner (MHO) then joined the cat at its table, poured it Chinese tea, & invited it to sit with him & 2 Lao ladies around a large basin full of smouldering charcoal. The temperature was down to single digits & white puffs of condensation formed as we spoke even within the restaurant.

What happened next:
  • starts off with conversation on Phongsaly, Xishuangbanna (Sipsongpanna) & cost of living in Singapore (why do Chinese everywhere love to talk about money matters & everything in $$$ terms??)
  • MHO offers to 带你到西双版纳去游玩 (bring the cat to tour Xishuangbanna)
  • young Chinese-speaking Lao guy comes to ask MHO to give him a job
  • MHO tells him to 找两个老挝人来坎材 (find two Lao to chop wood) & burn the wood to make 火炭 (charcoal) for sale
  • MHO emphasises that 不要给他们学会自己做 (the Lao must not be allowed to learn how to do it on their own), so that they cannot run off & start their own rival business
  • no effort on MHO's part to hide his disdain for Lao whom he sees as uneducated bumpkins fit for manual labour & not much else

  • bunch of PRC guys (friends of MHO) make their noisy entrance
  • MHO asks the cat to join him & his friends upstairs to 唱卡拉OK (sing karaoke)
  • somewhere in between all the Lao ladies disappear
  • MHO offers to 开个房间给你 (give the cat a room in his hotel)
  • cat tells MHO that it already has a room (true) in Yu Hua Hotel (false)
  • Caucasian couple enters restaurant
  • MHO asks the cat to go to Jinghong with him, no visa required as 关卡的人都是认识的 (he knows the authorities at the border) & they will just wave us through
  • MHO wants a wife, can the cat go back with him to Jinghong please?
  • cat is supposedly passing through Phongsaly enroute to joining husband in some village where he is working on some NGO project
  • MHO: 你结婚了?? (YOU ARE MARRIED??) 那我没机会了, 太可惜了! (then I don't stand a chance, what a pity)
  • cat 'vomits blood'

  • MHO (not giving up totally): 请你帮我在新加坡找个女孩子给我 (Please help me find a Singapore lady)
  • cat: 为什么不找中国还是本地的女孩子? (Why not a PRC or Lao lady?)
  • MHO: 因为中国和老挝的女孩子思想太老土了 (Because PRC & Lao ladies are too traditional in their thinking)
  • MHO writes down his name & mobile phone number in the cat's notebook
  • cat flees back to room in Viphaphone Hotel
The 'NGO husband' story would prove to be a most useful & plausible explanation easily understood & accepted by locals & PRCs alike, who could not fathom a non-farang-looking girl travelling alone in rural Lao.

关卡的人都是认识的...does that explain how women are easily trafficked across the Lao-China border?

end of day 5 (211206):
noodle soup/pho/feu/khaaw soi eaten to date = 04 bowls

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