05.12.2008 28 °C
Congratulations to Sandra Chow for identifying the world's tubing capital as Vang Vieng. A bucket of Lao whisky and an inner tube awaits you at Mrs. Loew's bar. And if you are wondering why a bucket of Lao whisky costs only two dollars - you obviously haven't tried it.
Every other T shirt here bears the logo "Same-Same," leaving you to wonder if it's a brand of beer. But what advertiser would want to claim their product to be the same as the competition? However, this is S.E.Asia. Elaborate, (and probably expensive) signs provide considerable entertainment to the thoughtful falang. Just today we could have stayed at the "Manirats Hotel", hired an angry car at "Car Rants" and visited the "Tourlist Office." Hilarious grammatical errors pepper ever menu and every advert.
But "Same-Same" isn't beer. It's the reply you get every time someone explains that their product, service or price is the same as the alternative. Ask the price of a tuk-tuk to town - "$3"; to the market - "Same-Same"; to the hotel - You get the point. So we took this message to come up with ways in which life here is "Same-Same" but vastly different. Here are a few examples.
We all wash - here they wash in the river.
We have the latest washing machines and driers - they actually have the same here, but many still wash clothes in streams and dry them in the sun.
Kids have toys - ours have a thousand plastic parts, (undoubtedly made in Asia), theirs are wooden whipping tops popular in Elizabethan England.
Televisions are as ubiquitous as the satellite dishes and Buddhas, (in Vang Vieng they are constantly tuned to "Friends"). In one village only the head man had a set - powered by a generator. The entire village was clustered around; men women and children, and had each paid a few cents. But they were watching Thai pornography.
In our 4 star hotel in Vang Vieng - with no glass in the lobby doors - the desk clerk unrolled a sleeping bag at 8pm. changed into pyjama's and lay in the middle of the foyer watching television until 11pm. when he locked the unglazed doors and went to sleep. This morning he gave us an early morning call, (unrequested), and shouted, "Get Up. Get Up." The same sort of thing that could happen anywhere - Same, Same but vastly different.
Thanks to our generous friends we gave a second donation. This one to buy books for Lao schoolchildren through an organization called, "Big Brother Mouse." WW.bigbrothermouse.com