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
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