A Tuk-tuk Driver and A Book of Dickens

Dec 18th, 2014 (it’s a long day and I am talkative… )

I was now on a road, a Laotian road. I did not hurry to catch a ride; I spent some time walking and watching. Everthing seemed so interesting to me and so fresh! with a taste different from any other I had experienced! I could not see enough. I wanted to take everything into my eyes and then let them sink into my heart. That’s the unquenchable thirst of a traveller!! The curiosity for a new world, for a foreign country!
People were poor. The houses they had were more like huts, made of bamboos or logs. Some little children were running around without any clothes, small bellies smeared with ashes, dust and some other unknown dark substances. The houses were built along the both roadsides. On one side, houses were built under the hillside covered by thick trees and grass; on the other side, houses were built just above the cliffs. I looked down the cliffs. The only thing I could see was a sea of grass. It’s rather scary as it was massive and nobody knew how deep this green sea was. Whenever the cool breeze of the valleys disturbed its stillness, I could see the huge green waves floating through tens of kilometers but I could never see the bottom of it.
Ok, enough poetic bullshit… 😛 😀
I stopped at a gas station and tried my luck, which turned out to be not much… I saw the woman taking care of the gas station wearing a mask. She was not the only one, the dust! The dust from the road was massive… It easily made one of the most dusty roads I had ever experienced, much more than in China.
A few Chinese cars stopped opposite the gas station and I asked them if they would go further. No, they would stay there overnight since it’s getting late…
Finally a vehicle stopped, but this was a special one, a 3-wheeler and the trailer was decked with seats, most of which were already taken. Later I learned that this was a tuk-tuk, a typical SEA transport tool. I asked the driver if I could ride along. He doubted but nodded. I was sitting beside him in the driver’s cab. We soon arrived in Muang Xai and went through it. People started getting off and they all handed over some money to him… “Ah! This is a taxi…” I suddenly realized…
The driver did not speak a word of English…not even hello… Luckily it was only about 3km from the point where he picked me up to where he thought my destination was — the bus station. I arrived. He asked for money. Seriously I did not have any Laotian currency with me… That’s right. “I don’t have money” was not just an exaggeration, it’s a truth. The rest went as routine.
–“What? You don’t have money?!
He was still smiling, with 50% of doubt, 40% shock and 10% anger. I felt guilty. I opened my home, which was basically my backpack, a gift from a very good German friend. I found things that I coud give him — a piece of soap, totally new and still in package and a book of Charles Dickens — “The Old Curiosity Shop”, which I finished on the train from North China to South China. He accepted them with doubtful eyes and asked other tuk-tuk drivers around us what the soap was. I performed how to use it. “You see, when you wash your hands or take a shower. You ‘chouke chouke’!” I said, “smear it on your body and hands!” 😀 He still had some doubts but it seemed that he understood the use of it and accepted it. I totally got that, but hey! although he did not speak a word of English, he also accepted the book of Dickens! 😀 without any questioning! 😀
WOWO! Amazing! 😉 😀
It’s getting darker……

A Typical Tuk-Tuk in Laos
A Typical Tuk-tuk in Laos

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