Saturday, December 23, 2006

Half Day Free and Easy Ventianne.

Man it all began yesterday, I woke up, ass frozen and all , and what more my balls got frozen too after I took a shower. The weather must have been 15C or something like that. I woke up early in the morning, my first one in Laos. Not exactly a very nice place to be, considering that it is a communist country and all, and the police are said to be everywhere. I had a briefing before I came over to Laos, they told me, we actually have a plain clothes policeman following us, wherever we go, I wonder if that is true.

I had a good time sleeping thank you, thanks to this bottle of Lao Beer. Only USD0.80, big bottle man, not the single one. I walked in the darkness of the night by the Mekong River, until I reached this Convenience Store, bought myself a bottle of RO water (USD 0.50) and a bottle of beer (0.80) . Thought I might forget , I also got myself a Laos Prepaid number, Tango Lao GSM provider. Mission accomplished la for first night, now can chat and sms with sayang oredi while I enjoy my local beer.

So after a quick breakfast of Fried Rice and Coffee at the hotel which costed my 6 dollars, my contact arrived and picked me up to work.

By 12pm they asked me if I wanted to break for lunch. I said no, we will finish this up before we go. For lunch we took a little drive in their nice 4WD , to a nearby restaurant. The city is apparently slow moving, and by that I mean this people drive about 40kmh tops. They have many people on Motorbikes, thank god, there wasn't
any Lao-Rempits here. We drove about 3 minutes from their office and stopped by one shop, we ordered, Ginger Onion Chicken, Kung Po Pork ( I think), Mushroom and Taufoo Soup and Rice. For my sake they ordered a bottle of mineral water for us to share.

After lunch we finished up the remainder of the training and the boss asked me, any place you want to go ? I said I wanted to buy Fridge Magnets. He looked blurr a while and said I bring you to one place, you might be able to find the things you want there. Off we went, to Ventianne's Morning Market. It was 3pm , and I wonder why the market was still open. Its called the morning market isn't it ? As we pulled over, we noticed 4 bus loads full of Thai tourists are also making their stop here. Its indeed how a market should be like, bustling with activity. This place is like a Pasar Pudu, except that it is not only a Wet Market, it has got shops which sells food, clothes, electronics, pirated CDs & DVDs, cameras, apparels, gifts, etc to make it short, everything but Fridge Magnets (FRAG !). The higher floor sells only jewelry. The thing that struck me was find a lady selling baguette kaki lima all. Didn't ask how much. On the same verandah a few meters away, another lady was vending somekind of more exotic foods, smoked fish, river weeds, pig parts which are deep fried.

I had another mission. I was on the look out for some deep fried worms, cricket, grashoppers, etc. Couldn't find any, but instead I saw some stalls selling Pisang Bakar, hmm something new, Ubi Bakar and very standard serving in ASEAN cultures, Jagung Bakar.

The boss sent me back to the hotel, after which I changed out of work clothes into something more comfy, shorts and Tees. Packed in a jacket , just in case la. So I walked along the Mekong River, which was supposed to bring me to the Evening Market. Now, you see, the Evening Market, as I thought the name suggested was like Petaling Street, or Pasar Malam, but actually ho, the place closes at 5pm too, just like its counterpart, the Morning Market. Only difference, this Evening market is ruled by Chinese and Vietnamese traders.

I walked and walked, but couldn't find the evening market. So decided to ask some tourists, the whereabouts of this evening market, they pulled out their lonely planet guide, referred to it, and said sorry, there is not evening market in here. In my mind , I thought, belah la, tunjuk pandai only show lonely planet guide all... In the end, had to pay the Tuk Tuk USD 2 for a short ride from where I was to the evening market. I was close, but not that close also. I over walked a junction for 15 minutes.

TukTuks in Laos are a rip off. They have a per entry or per ride fee of USD 2. Nevertheless, destination reached, I found out that they sell everything under the sun except for Fridge Magnets. Besides, the Evening Market looks more like a market place for the locals, rather than for tourists. I did not want to pay another 2 dollars for a ride back to the hotel so I decided to walk back to the hotel from there. It took me about 40 minutes to get back on foot, but I did get some really interesting shots of a local lawn bowl type game, interesting sights, and some interesting foods.

I started my eating trip with Laos Satay. BBQ Pork Gizzard and Roast Pork. One stick each. Walked around, saw some Chicken Feet Kerabu, din fancy those so I passsed. 5 minutes later I saw a Yaw Char Kwai Stall and decided to try some unfamilliar shapes, but they all tastes just the same. I also had s
ome Keropok Pisang, tastes just the same like the ones we can find here and Thailand.

The boss came pick me up for dinner at about 645. By then, the sun was completely set. The weather at a cool 20C. Pretty nice for winter. I believe at about 4am, the temperature drops until 15C. We went on a floating restaurant on Mekong River for dinner. We had Mekong Fish for dinner, Mekong Fish Masak Tom Yam, Masak Kerabu and Masak Kari. Aiyak suddenly Jelak already, if you ask me, I will pass on Mekong fish the next time I am offered. Its just another version of the popular CatFish, however so, the fish is a much larger specie compared to the ones we have in Malaysia. I suppose he really took my word literally when he asked me, What would you like to eat ? My answer was Lao Food.

Tom Yam Mekong Fish and Ikan Mekong masak Kerabu(behind)

So we had Beer and after dinner, we adjourned to a Karaoke Joint. Nothing to shout about, but to them singing and drinking must be Laos' people's favourite past time. They have night clubs and discos too, but I felt like singing some old songs, so the boss brought me to a singing place. He opened a bottle and we finished it.

Sent me back to my room at about 12am. Watched some ESPN and eventually dozed off.

The next day will be one fragging day to blog about.