Wednesday, December 26, 2007

251206 Silent Night in Nong Khiaw - part 3

As a Christmas special, Mr Sunset Guesthouse got the boys to serve all diners complimentary salads of lettuce, boiled egg, tomato, cucumber, onion & other greens that the cat couldn't really make out in the candlelight =) We invited him to join us, but he was busy trying to fix something under the light of his headlamp.

Meanwhile, the cat discovered that none of the boys & girls working in the guesthouse were his had earlier assumed that they were, based on how it had observed him treating them. According to Mr Belgian 2, they were from nearby village(s). The kids (in their early to mid-teens) walk/cycle across the bridge to get to school on the opposite side of the river, & return after school to work in the guesthouse. The boys have been helping to build the new bungalows, but also help out in the kitchen & with babysitting Mr Sunset Guesthouse's toddler. All have picked up quite a bit of English & French & how to cook both Lao & falang food through their work & interaction with guests & their boss. In their free time they do their schoolwork in the restaurant area, sometimes with help from regular guests, & Mr Sunset Guesthouse pays their school fees.

At night, they stay over in the guesthouse, girls sleeping indoors, & boys in the verandah a few steps away from the cat's room...something the cat didn't realise when it had to make its way past what looked like two thick bundles of quilts in the darkness - the puzzled cat didn't recall seeing that many cushions or any quilts there earlier in the day...& definitely not any that moved!! The mystery was solved early the next morning when the cat watched the two bundles wake up...

A girl whom the cat had thought to be the 'eldest daughter' turned out to be a young divorced mother of the baby the cat had seen Mrs Sunset Guesthouse carrying around. Mr Belgian 2 said that giving her the guesthouse job was their way of helping her. Apparently, divorce rates in Laos are pretty high. A laomeow consultant would later tell the cat about a particular village in his province where the majority of the girls are divorced by the time they are in their late teens!

end of day 9 (251206):
noodle soup/pho/feu/khaaw soi eaten to date = 07 bowls

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