February 21, 2010

311206 closing the (bigger) loop

Today's route in blue, past 13 days' route in grey:

Instead of backpacks...sacks that can easily fit the cat:


Mr German's Nelles map showing the exact location of Monk TYF & Co.'s village:


To keep himself occupied, Mr German busied himself 'reading' the contours & noting confluences with streams to track the rough location of our boat throughout the journey + taking close-up photos of the cat working on another 'friendship band'. Like what happened in Pak Mong, other passengers also came over to watch a cat play with string - the scenery was that boring compared to yesterday's :P

The locals asked to see all the rest of the incomplete pieces (& also the Lahu shoulder bag made by Nasa of Ban Jalae). Apparently the process of making the bands somewhat resembles a super simplified version of the ຈົກ 'johk' (discontinuous supplementary weft) technique of Tai-Lao weaving, because of all the long strands of threads of different colours hanging from the incomplete piece. Just before some of them (grandma + 2 mothers + 2 daughters) disembarked at Pak Tha, they pulled out traditional jackets from a sack & put them on - turns out that they are Hmong & were on their way to visit relatives over the New Year holiday.


Prolonged stop at Pak Tha for the passenger list to be scrutinised + kids to board the boat to sell Beer Lao & potato chips. One of the American cyclists described the scene as 'NYSE' (New York Stock Exchange) as the kids - who had only Lao kip to start with - buzzed up & down the boat deftly collecting payment in US dollars or Thai baht from those who didn't have Lao kip & returning each customer the correct change in the respective currency (in which payment was made) from what they'd received from other passengers. The whole operation - sans calculators - was over in a few minutes, & the adult customers took far longer to compute the calculations involved before marvelling at the speed & accuracy of the underaged forex traders.

Upriver from Pak Tha, the west bank of the Mekong runs into Thai territory & the ธงไตรรงค์ thohng dtrai rohng (3-coloured Thai national flag) starts appearing. Obvious signs of a dirt road running parallel to the river on the Lao side:


Because the cat has not seen this much flat land for the past 13 days:


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