Monday, 24 June 2013

Don Det Thoughts

Hello folks!

I was supposed to work today. It's sunny, it's windy, it would have been perfect, except for my stomach that feels like it just shotgunned 6 energy drinks.

In truth I just had an espresso and already my body has expressed itself twice on that regard.

These following notes were scribbled down when I came back from the scooter trip I did with the two nice Argentinas. Another hard good-bye.

Sans plus tarder:

Back to "Work"

After a few days off Don Det for a much-too-quick Bolivan Plateau motorbike loop I am back at One More Bar.

I will spare you the details but the cook quit while I was gone, taking with him his only possession: his hammock.

The 13-year old girl named Ban who had been helping out has picked up the slack and it really shows how the kids really are mature here, and how quicker they become it. At 13 I couldn't be bothered to cut the grass for 5$ and when I did, I botched it.

That was the original text. However, the 2 individuals mentioned deserve to be fully fleshed-out.

Pan, who we called "Pee-Pan", was a gay, 40-something Lao man working in the tiny kitchen of One More Bar. When it was quiet he would be sleeping in his hammock or playing games on my iPod. Sometimes I'd find random pictures he took during the day, mostly of the kids walking by.

I was not that surprised to discover that he quit, however. His frustration had started to show a few days before. I mean, he's there working hard (when it was busy) every day while I, the new guy, was holding the bar and joking around with the people I met. One night he thought I was slacking and when customers left after their meal, he immediatly went and cleaned the table, slamming the empty beer bottles on the bar in front of me when he was done.

Message understood.

We always got along though, even if we couldn't communicate very much. I was always patient when giving him the orders (he couldn't read english but would re-write my instructions in immaculate Laos and then take an extra second to make me practice pronouncing the words. Basil = Pakapow. Pah-kapow") and always invited him for drinks, to which he would always say no and rub his flat stomach.

The day I decided to leave the island for a few days was the same day Ken, Matt and Arron all left for a visa-run that got extended into a week-long drinking fest, Ken visiting his relatives that lived in the north of the country.

When Pan saw me with my bag, leaving, he just ran up to me and said "Pakse?" which is the name of the next "big" town over, north of Nagasan. I said yeah, motorbike, Pakse, Paksong, 3 nights and mimed sleeping, then held 3 fingers up.

he nodded, put a hand through his hair, then got his cellphone and called Ken.

He was pi-issed. I could not really understand what he was saying except sometimes Pakse! Pakse!

I left with a mild feeling of guilt and only saw him 3-4 times after that, riding his bike around the island or sleeping in his hammock under a cousin's house.

Ban, the 13-year old. Always with a look on her face like she is going to poison me. She started liking me after a month and we started playing rock-paper-scissors when it was quiet. She tried teaching me to count but I never memorised the words.

From what I gathered, Ban was a kid going to school on the island when the family decided that it was time for her to learn to be a woman and a good wife. Off she went to Ken's family to work in the kitchens and basically become their servant, learning with Yaun, Ken's wife.

I could always eat for free at One More Bar, and they never let me cook, so if I wanted to eat during the day they would yell Ban's name until she'd show up, give me a look of hate and cook me some fried rice. I only did it twice however, when I realised that. I felt bad about ruining her play-time.

I'd go walk around and eat at another restaurant even if that meant digging into my precious and dwindling remaining budget.

I met a lot of people that way however, so I guess it all evens out!

But yeah. In retrospect: Laos kids are hardcore.

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