Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rockin' In The Free World

As you all know, we are living here in an earthly paradise, or to quote Borat, “not!”

Things are generally pretty wonderful here but anyone who knows me that every now and then I simply must bitch. So here it is.

1)        For a week now water supply to our dirt road has been sporadic. To top it off, the little bit of water that does trickle in at night is now immediately sent elsewhere (water heaven?) by our pump which has decided that we are never to wash or flush our toilets. Never, ever again. The landlord keeps sending people to put Band-Aids on the problem.

2)        It is raining like a motherfucker and this is good news because the swimming pool cover keeps the water so I can scoop it out with buckets and use that water to flush the toilets. This means that every bowel movement involves a long meditation on the merits of physical comfort as opposed to the hassle of stepping out in the pouring rain with a bucket. It’s kind of like lying in bed half asleep and trying to decide if you really really have to go pee or if you can go back to sleep without it.

3)        Thanks to all your French, Canadian, American, Australian, Japanese, German etc. tax dollars the streets are full of luxury cars. Lexus, Hummers, Lamborghinis and late model BMW’s fill the roads and choke every possible artery during rush hour. Remember that ten short years ago there was no rush hour! There were no cars! Stopping at a red light here is like basking in hell since the tuk-tuks and motorbikes are truly toxic, and it gets really hot under that helmet. In true falang fashion I scoot my scooter to the head of the line to avoid breathing in the fumes.

4)        What else can I bitch, bitch, bitch about? GARBAGE!!! Look, it would take zero effort and very little money to convince the Lao to stop throwing their garbage everywhere and then to convince them to stop burning it. I suppose the Lamborghini has an air filter built in so not everyone is bothered by the smell.

5)        I would like to thank FIP, the Parisian traffic radio station for giving us hours of wonderful music: http://delicast.com/radio/France/paris/FIP, but recently their programming has shown some subtle changes. I’m not ungrateful for a day full of Dylan but it is so un-FIP-like. Please do not fix that which is not broken. Speaking of once noble radio, what the hell is going on at Espace Musique http://delicast.com/radio/Canada/classical/Radio-Canada_Espace_Musique, and why did they cut this year’s Christmas programming down to only one day? In days gone by we were able to enjoy a real Québec Christmas season even here in the tropics but Political Correctness has made the whole world parve (from the Yiddish word parev (פאַרעוו), meaning neutral). And what has happened to their once-fabulous jazz programming?

6)        Our land-line phone doesn’t work. Countless visits to Lao Telecom earn me vacant looks. The other day one of their technicians called me on my cell phone to ask me if the land-line works. “Why don’t you try calling me on the land-line and see for yourself?” I asked.

7)        Beeline is fucking up. Again. A lot of messages sent from people with other cell phone companies are not being delivered.

8)        I’m trying to plan another bike trip for the end of the month before the monsoon hits. This time I want to fly to Houay Xai ( 20º14’47.18” N by 100º28’50.65” E) and follow the Mekong up to Phagnalouangkhaming, pronounced just as it is spelt (20º48’00.96”N by 100º29’57.24”E) then cut down through the mountains to Ban Paung (20º23’10.05”N by 100º35’26.06”E) and hang a right and head back to Houay Xai in time to catch the flight back to civilisation. Problem is that although the first stretch of the road is clearly marked on Gecko Map, published 2006, there is no trace of it on Google Earth’s last image taken in 2002. Even Reb Dovid, who knows every damned thing, doesn’t know if this route exists and when he and Hué went there they were told that no routes existed, but he didn’t check it for himself. Maps in the Geographical Institute are said to be 25 years old, so if anyone out there has any idea, please let me know.

9)        Sayo is walking and kvetching. Just like his father.

10)                 To quote Hugh Romney: There’s always a little bit of heaven in a disaster area! That huge of heaven remains the Lao people. Things can get fucked up anywhere and in every country, but only here do people meet adversity and inconvenience with a smile and a laugh – it is a Lao tradition that makes you stop and laugh at yourself and your own self-importance. In this country there is literally “never heard a discouraging word”. 

11)                  I better hurry up and post this before the electricity cuts again.