Wandering around Oudom Xai
“Maybe I shouldn’t gamble anymore”, I thought to myself as I chewed another mouthful of tasteless fried sausage. I sat staring at the menu deciding what could have been a better choice. Reading Laotian is hard. I never thought randomly picking off the menu could have ended up this bad. Perhaps I should order the most expensive dish next time? Or perhaps even get a translation in terribly broken English? Fortune favours the brave they say… certainly not in this case.
Across the table sat Thomas, drawing as usual. Behind him stood the chef, beaming a big smile over Thomas and his artistic talent. I considered for a moment continuing my blog post but my thoughts were quickly drowned out by the blurring sound of 90s music pumping out from the kitchen speaker. Fixed to the wall was a widescreen television with a video and words to accompany the music. Karaoke! So it’s not only the Thais who adore the microphone. I laughed with a trickle of interest which quickly propelled into a fully blown out version of Wonderwall. I must say, I was particularly good on the verse.
We continued our adventure around Oudom Xai, taking a dirt track into the woods to make things a bit more interesting. “Jon, I’m not going any further, there’s snakes everywhere in these parts”, cried Thomas. “Come on man, if we make lots of noise they’ll disappear well before we get close to them” I said, as confident as Ray Mears. So there I was scraping my stick through the leaves as Thomas followed unwillingly behind. Next minute, a pile of leaves rustled to our left. “Oh my god!”, I shouted. Thomas was running, quickly out of sight. I watched in amazement as a huge snake slithered through the leaves at speed crossing the path in front of me and darting up the hillside. “Did you see the size of that Tom!? That was incredible! Tom? Tommm?” I scurried back down the trail being careful not to disturb any more snakes. Thomas was hiding behind some bamboo; I think he would have climbed it if he could have. Back on the road, we continued walking.
A lot of children seemed to be coming home from school. A young boy approached us, clearly very excited to be talking to foreigners. “Come and see my school” he asked with a big smile on his face. “Okay, let’s go” we said, laughing at the randomness of it all. Half expecting a shanty of some sort we were surprised to see a huge building surrounded by flowers. They even had a massive field for playing football on, and some courts for kick volleyball, known to the locals as thuck thay. All the kids came running over and stood around gazing at us. I slipped the camera from its pouch. “There’s no point in hiding it, I’m a tourist, and I may as well take advantage of the fact and take some good pictures” I thought, as I snapped away. One of the kids had a Liverpool top on. I pointed at the logo, pointed to myself and did a sleeping pose with my hands aside my face with my head slightly tilted, surely that’s universal for I sleep there/I live there? Apparently not from the confused look on his face, he probably thought I wanted to sleep on his t-shirt.
On the way back we went shopping for our juicy, succulent, mangos from the local market opposite the hotel. We tried a different stall this time to see if we were getting the right price from our usual seller. I picked one of the mangos up and gave it a gentle squeeze to see how ripe it was. “Jon, stop squeezing them”, Thomas whispered. “Uh, but how do I know if it’s ripe?” I asked defensively. “You just know by looking at it”, he fired back. I didn’t reply because I knew he was right but I still squeezed them anyway. The price was pretty much the same so we paid the man and slowly shuffled back to our hotel, soaking in the last of the afternoon sun.
We ate our mangos in the area we called “The Mango Zone”, basically the corner of the room with chairs where the floor was sticky with mango juice. Thomas then retreated to his “office” in the corner to work on some project whilst I sat on the bed listening to music.
“That woman Jon, She’s in the picture I took this morning!” I glanced over and there she was, slightly pixelated, but definitely there! Boobs! Or that’s what we called her. Every morning for two days, I would always see this woman walking around with her boobs out, looking through bins. As Thomas was sleeping, he would never see her, but that morning, he had took a picture of the market from the hotel window and unknown to him at the time he had caught her in the bottom corner of the picture in all her glory. Boobs! Funny times.
The next day, we decided to go to Nong Khiaw. I can’t remember why, but it sounded interesting… as much as a name possibly could.
Catch you soon guys, peace and love,