Fish Juice

Muang Noy Travel Blog

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An example of a Sawngtheaw
From Moung Noy I made my way back to Luang Prabang by catching a sawngthaew.  The sawngthaew typically transport goods like rice/mail and livestock from one town or village to the next, so we made quite a few stops on the way to our destination.  I was relieved to see that they had not tied a dozen live chickens together by their legs and strapped them to the top.  I had heard stories of other travelers taking similar rides and having to endure hours of frantic squawks coming from above--I just dont think I could have handled it. 
 Sardines come to mind when I think about how many people they packed into this old truck.  It would have fit about a dozen people comfortably, but they packed in over twenty of us.
I soon learned that instead of live chickens, the drivers put a chest of freshly caught fish on the roof.  This would have been just fine, if the chest were not falling apart.  It was disintegrating to the point where it was profusely leaking fish juice and had to be held together by ropes.  To my dismay, the fish juice obeyed gravity and traveled downward.... 
 I kept thinking, "gosh, I wonder how fresh those fish are... because they really stink".  Next thing I know, the woman sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that it wasn't plain old rain water dripping on my back... but fish juice.  It seems that I had the prized seat; the way the truck was designed any liquid from the roof was funneled my way. 
I gave up my seat for a place on the aisle floor, ready to endure a 3.5 hour ride with my knees in my chest.  Anything to escape the fish juice.  Unfortunately, although I successfully escaped the steady stream of juice, some of it was caught up by the wind and met my face in the form of a mist.  I kept telling myself that this kind of thing builds character! 
Other travelers looked on me with pity.  Some even offered to switch places with me.  But I was determined to endure my situation without complaint.  When they saw that I was in it for the long haul these 3 German guys started passing their beers my way, insisting that I take as many swigs as were needed to get me buzzed.  Such good people, those Germans! 
What theoretically was to be a 3.5 hour ride turned into a 5.5 hours.  Typical Laos--Argh!!!  The official name of Laos is Laos PDR- People's Democratic Republic.  Travelers here have another name:  Laos PDR- Please Dont Rush. This fish incident was just one of the many opportunities I had to practice my patience.   

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An example of a Sawngtheaw
An example of a Sawngtheaw
Muang Noy
photo by: umbralwalker