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Member Since 16 May 2001
Offline Last Active Today, 01:56

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Usa Thread

05 April 2018 - 10:17

Little ginger bread goys?

In Topic: Quickie Trip To Vientiane

05 April 2018 - 05:08

p.s. In those days you had to get a visa before entering the kingdom. That meant a trip to the Royal Lao Embassy in Bangkok. The visa stamp was in Lao and French. As I recall, so was the form you had to fill out. I read the Lao, since my French was even worse 44 years ago.

In Topic: Quickie Trip To Vientiane

05 April 2018 - 04:46

Colin Cotterill is quite readable.

I was in the old Wiengchan (fuck the Froggies and their garbled spelling) just months before the commie takeover. There was a coalition government at the time, and the Pathet Laos had a camp and marched armed patrols through the city (to show off their presence, I presume). They were nasty little fellows who wore Chinese style uniforms and never smiled at anyone. Wave at them and they might flip you the bird or throw stones at you. I saw a Brit tourist try to take a photo of their camp, and the guard locked and loaded his AK47 and pointed it straight at his chest. Everyone else was friendly though, except for one grumpy Viet shop owner I met who made sure you know he was from Hanoi and wanted none of that Saigon stuff.  (His wife locked quite embarrassed by his rants.)

The nightlife was in a row of small shops that appeared to be restaurants. In fact, they were knocking shops that also served food. It cost the equivalent of 30 baht for ST. I remember one very cute girl who said she was from Nong Khai but that the business was better on the Laos side of the river. Most of the shops seemed to be run by Vietnamese mamasans, and you could tell that by the two photos invariably displayed on the wall ... one of King Sawang Wattana and the other of RVN Predisent Nguyen Van Thieu.

It was a sleepy little city back then, much more so than nowadays. Pedal samlors were the way to get around, but the commies soon ban them as "not fitting" the image of a nation's capital. For lunch, I liked a little restaurant run by a Frenchie, where you could order a Vietnamese meal and a glass of wine for not much money. There was also a semi-permanent community of western hippies who were they for the opium dens (4 baht for an opium pipe). Some of them told me they'd teach in Japan for 3 months a year to make enough to live the other 9 months in Wiengchan. Prices were cheaper than Thailand, plus the kip didn't come in such ridiculously large denomination. I think it was about 40 kip to the baht then, and you could have a nice meal for a few baht.

The small French population could almost never speak Lao, and they refused to speak English. But back then every Lao school kid studied French in school, so why should the French learn Lao?

Tastes seem to have changed. I remember the usual breakfast consisted of a baguette and a mug of Ovaltine. Last time I was there, I didn't see any Ovaltine. Now they drink coffee. Plus the war memorial is no longer in a traffic circle and has been renamed the Patu Xai, as if the commies had won a great victory. In fact, it was paid for with USAID money and was dedicated to the Lao dead of all wars. The Pathet Lao have done their share of rewriting history, making the monarch who founded the kingdom a great hero with a big statue, and conveniently overlooking the fact that they killed off the last royal family.

In Topic: Quickie Trip To Vientiane

05 April 2018 - 02:44

The Pathet Lao military forces were a joke, just like the royalist forces. It was the North Vietnamese Army that seized power in 1975 and handed it over to the Pathet Lao, who promptly arrested the monarch and called for an election (mandatory vote) with just one candidate for each office. They then installed the "new government", which happened to be led by a half-Vietnamese commie who had been raised in Hanoi. But even in colonial days, the Froggies had brought in Vietnamese to hold many of the administrative positions. There is no love in Laos for the "Gae".

I worked with a Lao refugee (now a citizen of Oz) whose family fled early in the commie years, since they were a likely target because her school teacher father's older brother had been connected to the royal government. She told me she remembered seeing the NVA soldiers marching through her town on the way to seize the capital, each one of them with his bag of rice slung over his shoulder. Under the PL government, there was a new flag (the communist party banner) and a new anthem, but what struck her most was that the radio each morning broadcast the national anthem of Hanoi before the new commie anthem. She asked her father why they were playing another country's anthem. It was very clear from the beginning who was in charge.

p.s. Your Mrs got lucky.  :)

In Topic: How Zuckerberg's Facebook Is Like Gutenberg's Printing Press - Oh Dea...

05 April 2018 - 02:26

Type in your full name on Google and search. It was hard to find me not so many years ago, but when I do it now ... I find my birth date, my parent's names, my sister's name, my nephew's name, my address (old one), the universities where I studied etc, That's a big change and came as something of a shock.