Monday, April 21, 2008

Vientiane, Laos

Actually dah lama I wanted to do this entry, tapi memanjang tak sempat.. so dari hari ke sehari almost dah half a month since I last started this entry.. sorila ye.. the entry is backdated.. Tapi memandangkan hari ni 9th May -- I wish Meor Hamzah Happy 29th Birthday
Here's my entry on Laos --
Setelah sekian lama tak travel, last November I was assigned to go to Vientiane, Laos for a project funded by Asian Development Bank on issues of development in Greater Mekong Subregion -- topic was really boring, tapi disebabkan hotel yang we all lepak for the meeting (courtesy of my boss -- 'courtesy' as in chosen) was really nice, ok la gak...

Vientiane on it's own, tak adela apa sangat, ala2 macam Ipoh town 20/30 years ago.. pukul 5 -5.30 ptg, kedai dah tutup.. malam takde mende and tempat nak pegi takde sangat so kebanyakannya lepak je la..
Anyway, the first night we arrived (I was traveling with Francyne), we were picked up by the hotel transportation free of cool was that..Hospitality was really great..I recommend kalau sesapa nak pegi Vientienne, boleh la duduk kat The Green Park hotel...The next day after dah check everything was fine for the meeting, Francyne and I went to town to shop - Francyne cakap takut nanti tak cukup time nak shopping later... So we went to this market called the Morning Market -- kononnya Morning tapi sampai ke petang bukaknya.. but as I sayla pukul 5 - 5.30 dah tutup..

Food wise as usual, susah -- but adala a couple of Indian/Pakistan restoran yang halal -- so dapatla cover for one night -- other times -- I am totally vegetarian.. Lagipun stock bawak banyak..
The participants to the project was ok-ok je la.. sebab yg ada pun only 4 of them.. including one from Lao PDR itself.. Ms Malayvieng -- or as we call her Malay..

The hotel.. nice and serene right??

The hotel's restaurant.. Francyne and I will always have our breakfast here.. eventhough matahari dah naik and sometimes terik... still serene and quiet for breakfast..

This is during the first night out. The ADB guys mula2 reluctant to have Indian food (rupanya sebab Indian food kat Philippines teramat la mahalnya) -- but lepas dah try the first night, the next night dah sibuk nak pegi lagi....Anyway, thanks to Francyne yg peka with my requirement -- she yg suggested for us to eat at this halal restaurant.

The next night, Francyne bawak all of us for welcome dinner in town -- kalau tak salah the restaurant name is "Kop Chai De" -- maksudnya welcome ke terima kasih.. i pun dah tak ingat. Ni Jason(ADB) ready to makan the 'cengkerik' goreng during this dinner - at least I think it was cengkerik goreng.. tak tau la plak kalau serangga lain..

After dinner, we went to this bar across the street -- it was Malay's Jazz Bar. This is Malay and Jason sitting and talking in the bar... that was my first time ever in a bar -- luckily it wasn't 'happening' yet as it's still early. But me and Francyne, we were the first ones to leave.. penat la..

Me listening to Tito's experience when he attended one of the Halal conference in Southern Thailand(some years back).. he gave some pretty interesting facts -- although I don't quite look interested in the picture hahaha...mengantuk macamana nak look interested..
How on earth did the topic of 'Halal' came about ? Well, while they were drinking wines, they serve this snack macam beef strips which at that point I ingat pork.. Malay beria-ia suruh I makan, she said "it's beef, don't worry!!" I told her, even if it's beef, it's still not halal because it's not slaughtered the Muslim way.. so that's how the topic started between me and Tito..

Both of us looking very mengantuk--really want to go back to the hotel room and bedebush..However, sebab kat Vientiane takde teksi, we have to naik some sort of a tuk-tuk.. of course who would dare to naik tuk-tuk sorang2 so I had to wait for someone to leave so that I can tumpang..

This was taken during a field trip (on the last day of meeting ) to a "school for teachers" -- ala2 maktab perguruan la yang di'funded' by ADB. The bebudak yang nampak macam students to sebenarnya are going through training to become teachers. Ada sorang tu datang dari jauh di kawasan pendalaman -- 2 tahun belajar baru sekali balik kampung.. kos tinggi and jauh sangat katanya..

Kat atas yours truly with the camera crew from Laos National Television -- I wasn't involved with any of the production part - just coincidentally berdiri kat sebelah diaorang..sibuk gak nak tengok macamana they all operate..

This is the student (sebelah kanan, berbaju putih dan ber'tie') yang I kata duduk jauh di pendalaman.. kesian jugak tengok they all.. But you can see their determination to be good teachers so that they can teach their younger generation and prosper.. He is going to teach English.. He speaks quite well for a Laotian..

Yang dasyatnya lagi.. they all bercucuk tanam and ternak ikan/binatang untuk dapat sumber makanan sendiri.. ye la semua nak beli mana ada duit..

Since we all datang buat field trip ni hari ahad.. you can see la all the students tengah study lepas basuh2 kain and mengemas -- kat belakang tu I am not too sure whether it's the classes ke they all punya dorm.. tak ingat..Tapi rupa dorm they all very macam zaman sekolah kita la kat sini -- katil bertingkat, satu dorm panjang share 20-30 orang.. baju2 sidai merata..

Another angle of the school.. the guy in yellow shirt is Roger from CCTV.

After the school trip, we went for lunch by the Mekong River.. the restaurant is actually floating on the water -- siap ada floating sampan as restaurants lagi..Tapi food wise alamak.. gelinya(paham-pahamlakan).. but untuk mengelakkan daripada host (orang kementerian jugak rasanya) rasa kecik hati.. aku makanla nasi kosong je.. pastu dalam van belasah makan biskut yg dibawak untuk time2 emergency mcm ni..

Kat atas tu, gambar lepas semua orang dah makan by the river..

Lepas lunch, we went to another place some 'irrigation' place that ADB also help funded to ensure farmers has sufficient water to plant their crops..Another big welcome.. siap dapat kalungan bunga lagi -- tengok la kat atas tu..

Next we went out to the fields to meet and try to interview the farmers that actually benefit from this programme.. Malay had to do a report for her news programme malam tu..

Anyway, the reason why I include this photo is talk about the way Lao women dress -- officially every Lao women has to wear the Lao skirt -- ala2 macam batik jugak la.. top tak kisah nak pakai apa pun.. tapi seluar tak boleh pakai.. semua kena pakai skirt..the skirt plak akan diikat dengan tali pinggang besi yg ada kerawang2 tu -- macam my Opah used to wear.. to know the status of the women (whether orang berada ke orang biasa) you can judge from the belt.. kalau besar, colour gold -- ha tu orang kaya la tu.. kalau kecik halus je.. biasa je la..Unfortunately, I tak de plak the proper picture of a full dress Laotian woman.. terlupa nak this is the best I can show u all la..

The LNTV camera crew did not come properly equipped.. macamana datang buat interview kat outdoor tak ade 'boom' mic?? Nasib baik la participant dari Vietnam si Huy ni creative.. terus create a mic boom out of ranting kayu..

And the interview went well.. I think la..Mana nak paham apa diaorang cakap..