Sunday, August 19, 2007

241206 Pak Mong 龙门客栈

A few steps away, the owners of a little stall cleared away their wares from a little table outside the front of their home. Two guys waiting for onward transport to Vieng Kham & Sam Neua took over the table & sat down to a simple dinner of a small plastic bagful each of sticky rice & what looked like reddish beans. Younger guy invited the cat to share their little meal & sit with them while waiting.

PS (younger guy) asked if the cat could speak English, for he wanted to practise what he knew. Together, the three of us watched uniformed men at the junction stop & check every passing vehicle. ทหาร thahaan (soldiers)? No, ตำรวจ dtamluat (policemen). The cat found out that police wear olive green, whereas soldiers have darker green uniforms.

The last songthaew from Udomxai arrived - no luck. Before the cat knew it, the 'Pak Mong Welcome Committee' sprung into action, & daughter of stall owner took care of its backpack while PS led it to the 'white guesthouse' that everyone in Pak Mong had recommended. The doors of 'white guesthouse' were wide open, but the only response we heard when PS called out for the เจ้าของ jao khawng (owner) were echos.

PS decided to try another guesthouse across the road, but apparently the only water available for washing & bathing was from a concrete tank of stagnant water in each room. When asked if there was any place to bathe, the owner showed us to the room with the fullest tank - of equally stagnant water =P There were no taps nor pipes, & we wondered how on earth did they fill the tanks, which were all on the second storey - run a hose up the narrow winding stairs? PS joked that 'baw dtong aap nam - baw aap nam kaw suay ngam laew' (lit. don't need to bathe - without bathing already beautiful). Seems that even locals considered the tanks filthy! =P

Back at Bountham Vonethabing Guesthouse (aforementioned 'white guesthouse'), a daughter of owner finally appeared. For the same price (30,000kip) as 'stagnant water guesthouse', the cat had access to a shared bathroom with the biggest fattest water heater the cat has ever seen in all its 9 lives, & a room in this 龙门客栈 long2 men2 ke4 zhan4...

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龙门客栈 (Dragon Gate Inn), the title of a Chinese swordfighting movie, is the cat family's term for mysterious guesthouses in the middle of nowhere. In the movie, some guests at the isolated inn never leave, but end up as fillings for 'pork' buns (something like what Thais call 'salabao') served to other guests ;)

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