14 May 2007

First jep tong

My two- month run of non- sickness came to an end yesterday when I got a jep tong (sore stomach). It improved quickly though, and I didn’t have to go home from work, though I wasn’t particularly productive, and ended up going clubbing that night. It helped that the office air conditioner was working for the first time in days so the temperature in the office keeping the temperature under 30 degrees.

I went to Stickies, an expat hangout, to meet my Lao uni friend. No cocktails for my weak stomach this time. Then went to a Lao restaurant called ‘Moon the Night’ on the Mekong which I’ve been to a couple of times now. It’s a big open restaurant. Uni friend got the Lao menu which is a book with several hundred items in it. I wonder what they all are. There are a couple of English menu’s I’ve been given and both were different- one was a couple of pages, the other around four pages. I noticed a lot of commercial activity going on. There were people selling phone cards, and a couple of girls that went around selling small bottles of ‘Wakie’ drink designed to make you feel fresh in the morning. There were the usual beer Lao girls there who pour your beers. I heard that there was a commercial activity going on in the men’s toilet. A, who was with another guy we met came back from the toilets smiling. Uni friend noticed and asked ‘what’. There are men in the men’s toilets to help people relax. Just as you’ve become pant less at the urinal they will come up behind you and start massaging your shoulders. Apparently some of them will ask first, but some just ambush you.

There were lots of dogs wandering around ‘Moon the Night’, and actually there are way too many dogs wandering around when I’m eating in restaurants in general. Apparently the small dogs are the Lao ones, and the bigger dogs are falang, or foreign, dogs. Dog is generally thought here to be a very good meat. Usually it’s imported from China or Vietnam. It’s quite a fatty meat and supposedly warms you up in winter, though I question, what winter, it’s only wet and dry here! This means dogs go missing. A friend said his mum had had two of her dogs taken, much to her sadness, she cried at the loss. I heard another person say their friend’s dog went missing and when they went looking they found it tied up at a pho restaurant.

I ate some dried buffalo skin. It’s about 1cm thick and very hard to chew- you have to chew it at the right angle to make sure you’re with the grain. You eat it dipped it in a think chilli fermented fish paste. People find it a good beer snack, and it tastes ok, but I don’t see the huge attraction. The fish I ate last night was farmed from Thailand. It is 60% bigger than natural because they use hormones to make the fish change to a male and stay that way so it grows. Fish change their sex throughout their life, but I can’t remember whether all types do and what prompts the sex change. This fish isn’t bad for unhealthy because no one has yet proven otherwise.

I went to a fairly new club called Romeo last night. It’s actually really nice, as nice as one of the better clubs in Sydney would be. There are three staff there to help you park your car. I saw a yellow Porsche out the front which is so out of proportion in cost to the other cars around here- I wonder where they got the money from and why they wanted to spend it on a car! There are people to greet you at the door. There are heaps of wait staff giving good table service and shine a torch on the bill so you can see it. It’s quite a young crowd, they play hip hop and the music is quite loud even for a club. Not many people were dancing though, they were concentrating on drinking. They play football on some of the screens for the boys that have been dragged there by their girlfriends. There is a large Johnny Walker sign at the front. Its interesting here, you can’t really buy a glass of scotch and cola. Usually you would buy the whole bottle of scotch at the restaurant, bar or club, and colas separately and you mix it yourself or have the waiter mix it. Most supermarkets will stock the full Johnny Walkers range- red, black, green, gold and maybe the $90US blue in various sizes.

Random stuff

I haven’t ever this much Celine Dion and Britney since the 90s

The rocket festival is on soon. Legend has it that if you shoot the rockets up to the clouds it will bring the rain. My friend has been to a rocket festival already and some are made of a 2 metre long pipe. They usually shoot it off a tower.

Don Chan hotel is haunted! Some construction workers died on site. I think Lao people generally believe it.

’The Economist’ magazine- although I’ve heard they argue its newspaper- is only around ($1.5 USD) or $2 AUD. This beats the $9.50 AUD I would no way pay at home. I was convinced we bought it second hand because it has a stain but A thinks its new.

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