August 12, 2007

241206 Muang Khua to Udomxai

Yesterday's route in grey, today's route in blue:

Plan was to continue down the Nam Ou from Muang Khua to Nong Khiaw. However it was a Sunday & the whole bunch of boatmen concurred it was unlikely that there would be (m)any locals heading downriver, & no one had seen any other tourists in town. Their advice was not to wait a day nor to charter a boat for USD100 (way beyond the cat's budget!), but to take the bus to Udomxai & then Pak Mong, & find a connection to Nong Khiaw. & so the cat found itself at Muang Khua bus station:


One of the reasons why there are no female bus drivers in Lao?


European & American colleagues have asked the cat why Chinese, Lao, Thai, etc consider it taboo for women to sit or stand above men, & the cat cannot think of any scientific explanation for its fellow scientists...well it's 18 years of scientific training versus 27 years of living in cultures where older relatives (especially gamblers) cry murder should ladies undergarments ever be placed such that men might have the 'misfortune' of walking beneath them. In the Thai-Chinese households that the cat has lived in, even placing them in the same laundry basket together with men's clothing was a crime! *scratch head...with hindpaw*

For the 'import' & 'export' of humans & other stuff from Muang Khua:


Red sign with white letters below has a better translation for 'khao' & 'ork' (arrival & departure) =P What does 'bpor. kor. sor.' (three red letters at upper left) stand for? Cat guess is that the last two letters are short for 'kaan song' (delivery).

A bunch of locals came running after the bus, hoping for a ride back to their village not far out of town. Smiles all around as Mr Bus Driver declined to accept any payment from them =) The road from Muang Khua to Pak Nam Noi & Udomxai is paved & in pretty good condition, & we pulled into Udomxai bus station 28,000kip poorer & about 2 hours later at a little past 11:00AM, only to find that the 12:00PM transport to Pak Mong had already left as it was full. The next songthaew for Pak Mong would leave only at 14:00PM.

& so the cat found itself back in the company of the same bamboo sticky rice & doughnut sellers who had kept the cat company as it waited for the Phongsaly bus a few days earlier. Seller #1 rested her head on the cat's backpack, hugging the entire pack & using the rolled up sleeping bag as her pillow. She drifted off into the slumberland where many Lao spend their lunchtime in, where she might meet seller #2, who was napping right beside the cat. With its backpack thus secured, the cat was free to concentrate on writing its journal & wandering around to find lunch =)

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