Monday, October 29, 2007

251206 Pak Mong - Nong Khiaw - Ban Sop Houn

Yesterday's route in grey, today's route in blue, & approximate location of PS's village in green circle:

As arranged, PS met the cat at 7:00AM to return it the blue backpacker bible & run through the pronounciation of some of the English words he had copied down. The first word he asked the cat about was 'diarrhea' =P Also had to explain to him the difference between 'went' (bpai laew) & 'when' (waylaa/meuadai).

The yellow Big Brother Mouse book 'sadt nai thawiib aafrikaa' (lit. 'animals in continent Africa') book (below right) became PS's Christmas gift:


Not that Christmas meant anything to us, it just happened to be Christmas day in falang world, & the cat realised this 'Christmas gift' thingy only as it was writing this post 10 months later. Inside the book:


For each featured animal there is a passage in Lao & the corresponding English translation on the facing page. PS continued his Lao lesson for the cat (started the previous evening), & the cat learnt names of animals like 'seua dao' (lit. 'tiger star' = cheetah, the fellow cat shown above), 'ling kor lin laa' (lit. 'monkey gorilla') & 'maa lai khor yao' (lit. 'horse stripe neck long' = giraffe). Pronouncing the English names was a little tricky for PS - 'ch' has been replaced by 's' & 'r' by 'h' in post-1975 Lao language. Closest he could get was 'jee-dta' & 'jee-laugh'. Interesting how these 2 books would end up travelling to places far beyond the cat's route - the other book would end up somewhere in Hongsa district of Saiyabuli province later on. Inside the other book, which has a cat as the main character:


PS showed the cat photos of the uncle he had just visited in Luang Namtha, an elder sister(?), & a friend from Vientiane. This led to the first time a Pak Mong lady ever touched a camera in her life:


She was too scared to press any button, & the cat ended up setting the Olympus mju300 to remote control mode, asking her to be a 'human tripod', & activating the shutter using the paw-held remote control! Turned out quite well despite the fact that she had no clue which way a camera should face...lens away from her would get us our photo, lens towards her would get us a really interesting self-portrait of her =P She was delighted with her accomplishment =))

PS managed to write his address in English for the first time, although after he was done we decided that it would be safer to have the Lao version as well - the cat could easily copy it out or cut & paste a photocopied version onto the envelope. Around early May 2007 the cat would receive a snail mail reply from PS, saying that the photo, Lao stamps & envelope (for him to send a reply to the cat) had somehow reached his village of about 40 households in the mountains that straddle the Lao-Vietnamese border, where postmen are unheard of. Probably reached him via the local 'pass-the-parcel' system. To post his reply he had to wait till the next time someone made a trip ~60km down the Nam Xeng river to Vieng Kham town, where the nearest post office is.

Bountham Vonethabing Guesthouse:


The tables covered with blue canvas & topped with a yellow Beer Lao crate full of khai phaen are where Boten grandpa, guesthouse owner & daughter & the cat sat at the previous night to watch the buses go by.

HWY 13 stretching on to Luang Prabang from the Pak Mong junction:


Parted ways as PS took the songthaew that would continue beyond Nong Khiaw to Vieng Kham, where he would find onward transport to Vang Xiang & from Vang Xiang to his village, while the cat took another one that would terminate at Nong Khiaw, so as not to disappoint Mr One-of-the-Songthaew-Drivers.

Set off with 4 old ladies & Phaen, an 18 year old girl with a huge sack of stuff who chatted with the cat in a mixture of Thai & Lao before she alighted at some project centre (vocational training for youth?) near Nambak town. The 6 of us huddled together for warmth in the frigid wind, giggling & sharing jacket pockets with those who had no gloves =) In Nambak town, the songthaew stopped by a petrol kiosk where a graduated cylinder was filled by cranking a wheel by hand to measure out the desired amount of petrol, before loosening a clip at the end of a hose to let the petrol flow into the vehicle tank, & 2 of the old ladies got off at the district 'hong mor' (hospital). The rest alighted in Nong Khiaw, & Mr One-of-the-Songthaew-Drivers continued across the bridge to drop the cat off at Ban Sop Houn, seemingly amused by the cat's correct pronounciation of the village's name (thanks to PS!).


Anonymous said...

straycat, wow, you have been to so many fantastic places! I am curious to know more info on everything about Phu Chi Fah, would you don't mind sharing with me? I am planning to visit there Mar 08... Please email me at if you will... thankz..


straycat said...

have emailed you!