April 15, 2007

201206 Udomxai

Nam Ko, which bisects Udomxai town (capital of the eponymous province):


Both the provincial tourism office & market are near the bridge where route 13 crosses it (where this photo was taken). Here was also where the bus driver dropped off Mr & Mrs Korean & the cat, figuring that what his foreign non-PRC passengers needed was information from the tourism office =) The office has plenty of English displays on attractions, waterfalls, villages & treks in the area, free photostated copies of a detailed map of Udomxai town produced with the help of the German agency DED Laos, showing the location of most guesthouses, & English-speaking staff.

A sign that the cat kept seeing all over North Lao:


The name of the company 中老森源 (zhong1 lao3 sen1 yuan2) translates as 'China Lao Forest Resources'. Historically many parts of North Lao were a part of China, & many on both sides of the border have relations on the other side. But now larger forces are coming into play, & the feeling the cat gets is that China views North Lao as just another province, one that it can strip bare of resources (hydroelectricity, timber, rubber, vegetables, even women) it needs to fuel its rapid growth. Wonder where does this leave the Lao...?

Vongprachit guesthouse:


One half of the curtains (above) seems to be upside down ;)


Shown to room 202, a fan double with private hot water (didn't work) bathroom for 40,000 kip (~SGD6.20). Writing down the cat's particulars in the guest register gave the owner a little surprise, he'd assumed it was Lao. A quick glance at the register showed that the last guest stayed here in late November! & it really showed - had to give the bathroom & toilet bowl a much-needed wash, & in order to get any water to do that, the cat had to get the owner to turn on the water mains in a corner of the courtyard.

But the room was huge & clean, & electricity was stable enough for camera batteries to be charged, although like most places in Lao, sockets are loose & plugs need electrical tape so that they don't fall out. Plus unlike some places in town, this wasn't one of those establishments where rooms are rented out by the hour to PRCs & their 'ladies of the night'.

Later on the cat would discover that the owner had given it the room right next to the one he & his family occupied, for the cat's safety. & whenever they heard the cat's door at night, he or his wife would get up to peek out & check if their only guest needed something, or someone to open the main gate to let it out - so sweet =)

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