On open air toilets…

We recently crossed into China, and I had my first introduction to the ‘real’ outdoor toilet, China-style. This isn’t my first time in China, but so far, I’ve been fortunate enough to have missed the open concept toilets. Before this, even the worst toilets had doors, and relatively ‘hidden’ plumbing.

Entering China via Boten, we stopped about ten kilometers into Chinese territory for a pee stop. The Sinopet station looked harmless enough, with busloads of people milling about, and the general number of long-haul trucks moving in and out of the place.

I was warned, the toilet is going to be nasty. Taking that into account, I took along with me my trusty ole Tupperware of wet wipes, thinking that the stench will probably be blocked out by them.

Nothing though, prepared me for the sight of about ten ‘authentic’ aunties, peeing and pooing into a ditch in unison, while chatting about the weather, I presume. Not even a small partition in between depositors, not to mention doors or loo paper.

The ditch itself, is another story. It was a moving river of human excreta, and the stench was beginning to get to me. Even through the wet wipes, I was beginning to retch. I figured, I’d rather pee in the bush than do it with the aunties chatting about there…

So there is my first, authentic experience with a Chinese toilet. I’ve heard many horror stories, and the worst I’ve seen, had cubicles but the ladies there actually used umbrellas to cover their heinies at work. It was just all too much for me to take.

I now am no longer even attempting to pee at toilets when we stop. I simply walk off for a bit with my trusty big umbrella and wet wipes, and let loose wherever I think people can’t really see…

I’m not the only one with this idea though… just today, I saw Nenek doing the same ☺

Good luck China, for Beijing Olympics in 2008. If ever the ‘mat sallehs’ are going to pee into a ditch in unison, then they’ve definitely done a good job at making the world more Chinese!

Missing you + Stella + Oreo to the point of tears, and not to mention indoor plumbing – Jasmine.

ps – my apologies, if I’ve offended anyone who feels that I’m putting China down… It’s just all too much shit in one day, pun intended.

On being on the road again…

Firstly, my apologies to all for not starting on my blog earlier… It’s been mad, as you can see from the previous post, and easing myself back into the folds of the lion’s den hasn’t been easy.

For those not aware of where I am, here is the ‘official’ story – http://www.petronasadventure.com/southasia/diary.php

Anyways, I’m now right in the thick of work, as I only joined the convoy about the fourth day of the expedition, jumping right into piles of work. It’s not as bad as last year though, as this year I’m no longer in charge of accommodation, and can breathe easier.

I’m currently in Luang Phrabang, Laos. Yes, Laos… definitely backpacker backcountry. Definitely out of reach – by rail or air. The only way to get here is to either drive, or cycle. Or, you could also take the boat, right from the mouth of the Mekong River, somewhere in Vietnam I was told… Can’t imagine how the immigration stop is going to be though… 😛

Laos is predominantly influenced by the French, as they were the powers that be back in the heyday. The hotel we’re staying in is an old colonial house, with tall French windows, with sweeping views of the Mekong River below and cooled by lazily turning wooden fans. It couldn’t be more idyllic…

The town is a quaint mixture of new and old, melding with the eclectic mix of predominantly European backpackers, and locals peddling their wares – from war antiques, to finely detailed silver filigree jewellery, to handmade tapestries and the ever-present Thai ‘monk pants’, almost everything my heart desires can be found in the night market… I even bought Laughing Cow cheese, and a can of American-made Pringles! (you would know darling, better than anyone, these are really almost everything I’d ever want)

The people are simple and happy, and they’re quite beautiful people considering how harsh life has been for them. Laos has been embroiled in local civil war for quite some time now, but then again, it doesn’t feel like a land torn in war. Instead, it feels like the modern world forgot all about this place on God’s green earth, and let time pass it by…

Food is glorious, when I can avoid the pork of course… Its an interesting mix of Laotian and French cuisine, giving rise to true ‘fusion’ tastes. Last night’s dinner was chicken confit (soup lah, for those not so snooty people :P), grilled foie gras with something like a Thai kerabu-style sauce, and the most gorgeous hand made noodles served with sweet sauce, and duck breast meat. I suppose no where else on the expedition I will be able to makan all the ‘gourmet’ meals on such as measly budget – dinner was only US4 last night!

No complaints today… Just wishing I had more time to enjoy this place, without the hustle and bustle of work… Just to give you some idea of how beautiful this place is, I’ll let you savour the pictures ya?

Much love, and still thinking of our ‘dognapped’ monkeys, and enjoying the beauty of Laos – Jasmine.

ps – Found a small cafe, with Wifi, and the best chocolate cake in the world… so decided to update blog lah! 🙂


– Sunrise on the Mekong River


– Laos highlands


– The Naga temple, on the Mekong River in Nong Khai.


– Dinner on the Mekong River, with Kak Wa (Labuan’s wife)


– Monks collecting alms in Luang Phrabang


– Wifi, cake and a cold drink… What more could a girl ask for?

Help!

Hi all,

It’s been a tough week for me… I’m going to let the poster above do most of the talking… All I can say is, its really difficult moment for me right now, especially because I’m out of the country, working, and CANNOT come home, not matter how I wish I could…

It’s one thing to steal an inanimate object, it is completely unbelievable that someone would steal a family member, with no intention of returning them to you… My heart felt like it was stopping, and I couldn’t breathe when I first heard the news… Now, hearing about all the effort that’s being put into finding them, I feel much better…

Many many heartfelt thanks, and my gratitude to those who have made an enormous effort to try and find them – Rafiq, Deby, Kash, Helen, Andrew, Myra, Joe,  Carol, Uncle Hafiz, and I suppose I’ll never know who else I owe these thanks to… Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, for making a difference – especially when I’m a million miles away…

Hoping, and praying, as much as I could, for their safe return – Jasmine.