From Filmcamp to an unexpected adventure – Part III

Visiting “Vientiane”

It was October 02nd with a fresh morning. This time, we were driven to eat Western food: customized burgers!  The café is named ???, looking very similar to Brow in Cambodia. Thomas said he like this style of café. As usual, while eating, we discussed various topics. The most remembered for was was how Siem Reap was considered one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia. The couple didn’t really accept this as they found a lot of income is massively generated over there these days. My point was that, the income didn’t come from the Siem Reap natives! Anyway, there are some truth about both arguments.
As we were free for the rest of the morning, our hosting couple had us visit part of the capital on our own. What we did was Wat Sisaket and Wat Hom PrahKeo. The compound of the first pagoda looks like that of our Royal Palace. The enclosure is full of Buddha statues of mixed sizes, most of which are relatively small. We just walked around until we entered the temple. It is where photos are banned because most of the items are sacred and precious, including a tall Buddha statue. We just kneeled down and saluted Him without burning any incense. Strangely, a Western woman shook a prediction-sheet can. Was she a Buddhist? I have no idea, but she looks serene. I also noticed a Chinese thin woman who kept taking photos of the place. It must be her first time like us. Then, we went on to the second pagoda, located just ten steps away, across a street. Its style is different from the first one as I saw no enclosure. But, again, the temple contains a lot of Buddha statues of all sizes. What amazed me inside there were some Khmer inscriptions and statues. They even admit that on their tag as of Khmer style. We wanted to move on, but Thomas already called us back to the fountain to get to another attractive site with them. Before we went, we dropped by at a travel agency, that opened only for 3 hours, to collect our bus tickets, which cost us $7 more than from Phnom Penh to Vientiane.  

The place is called “Thath Luang”, probably the landmark of the capital with its core golden stupa, as I’ve seen on some tourism materials before. As it was noon, the temple was closed for visits. I had suspected that before Natalie realized that she brought us there at the wrong time. So what we could do was to peek through a few holes to see what is inside. Then, I notice the same structure as Royal Palace. This is obviously inspired by Thai architecture. Anyway, we managed to get some awesome shots with the nearby pagodas. While walking to where to have some drinks, the couple showed us a controversial stupa from distance. Their story is that they confused it with a religious site. In fact, it was build for communist propaganda. Sure enough, the star on the top of it tells it all! We drank at a café, across a huge place where local product exhibitions are annually held. Inside, I found a couple of pictures of some Lao VIP because I don’t think they bothered to hang those of ordinary people there! Then, I asked a waiter to take pictures of four of us hanging there and told him to display those once printed out at their place! Anyway, he didn’t seem to understand my joke! Then, Thomas suggested that we introduced ourselves as Cambodians so they wouldn’t confuse us with Lao noble people who tend to speak English among themselves. Next, Thomas talked about a FilmCamp participant, who he considered a nerd. This lead to a TV series “Big Bang”, that he recommended us to watch.

Leaving that café, we headed to a Vietnamese restaurant to have late lunch. While walking, we came across a left-over motorbike that looked old-fashioned and very funny! Before eating, he went into a pharmacy that he finds safer than anywhere else for its cool storage. Rithea, in turn, ended up buying a pair of Ray Ban, just to look cool! I must admit I love those Nems although it took time to roll them. The taste cannot be found in Cambodia although we claim to have these, too. After the meal, we walked to Thomas’s favorite CD store, where we could fine almost any DVD we need. Before we got there, we passed by an old cinema, that reminds me of the cinema status in Cambodia. What an abandon! In the CD store, I didn’t need any, but Rithea did. By browsing for other shows than “Big Bang”, we were rushed back to the car.

We had about 2 hours to pack up everything for our return. Before dinner, Thomas and Natalie recommended us to a “trendy” souvenir shop. I hardly found anything to buy, but ended up with some phone pocket bags and two male T-shirts. My shock there was that, no matter how I spoke English to their salesman, he kept talking back in Lao! Needless to say, most of Lao people don’t speak English as their second language like us Cambodians. Rithea bought nothing because he was choosy about what to buy, even the pieces he forgot back in Cambodia! Then, we had our last dinner in Vientiane, at Khob Chai Deu restaurant, where their dim light all over the place didn’t seem to make us feel romantic at all. An old man, with his “girlfriend, even used their decorative candle to look at the menu. But we seemed to have our favorite food for this “farewell”. Of course, the discussion topic of our meal was what a so-called good girl is really like. “Are all the girls with makeup good?”, Natalie asked. She even recalled a profession whereby a girl is hired to spend time with me either verbally or sexually. The paradox is, she can choose the client she wants to spend time with. Natalie spots this in Laos, too, with a female neighbor. The talk continued till 06:30 pm, when we knew it was time to get to that travel agency office so a car would drive us to the bus station. Finally, no matter how we enjoyed FilmCamp and our stay with Thomas and Natalie in Vientiane, we had to say good-bye to them. Nonetheless, we promised to keep in touch, at least online!
Rithea asked me to wait for him a short while as he wanted to buy some team for his father. But only a few minutes after he had gone, the shuttle arrived and I had no idea of how to call him back! So what I could do was to load my stuff and his to the car first. Aware of the car arrival, he dashed back to where I was loading, just in time. Once in, many tourists were already there, including Westerners and Asian. We wouldn’t talk to different nationalities on such a short trip. So I kept chatting with Rithea. He reminded me of how he sensed the “scene” of my intensive discussion with Natalie, back in Baan TonMali Cake, before it even happened. I told him that that phenomenon is called a “déjà vu”. I reckoned how different it is from “premonition” as found in “Final Destination”. “How about making a film about the “déjà vu”?”, he suggested. I thought, “This guy is getting more serious after the Camp!”. He went on to tell me how the story should develop. From time to time, I probed him just to make sure it was not a fad! We carried on the talk till we got on the bus. But when we jumped into the length issue, he seemed to be not sure how long it would take as, as a scriptwriter, he would tell me only the approximate time, which is 15 mn to 30 mn. I found this range of time quite irrational to a producer. The approximation should around this or that time. The more we discussed, the more we tended to clash! So I decided to stop taking and sleep. 
Vientiane, Laos

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Sithen

Movie Producer/Sales Agent, Branding Consultant, Translator