Previously: Part 15 – Ho Phra Keo, Vientiane
Still Day 5: Friday, 30 August 2013
Soon after I exited Ho Phra Keo, I wandered around, just walking without any destination. Whilst walking, I stumbled upon a big mansion with a huge flag pole inside its compound. I looked at the signboard and it is written there ‘Palais Presidentiel’. Quickly, my subconscious French mind translated that to the Presidential Palace (Well, I think even those who don’t read French will also understood what that means).
Lepas keluar dari Ho Phra Keo, aku sambung jalan-jalan sampailah aku nampak satu bangunan besar dengan tiang bendera besar giler kat dalam laman dia. Aku tengok papan tanda, tertulis ‘Palais Presidentiel’. Oh, istana presiden rupanya.
I took several photos of the ‘palace’, which looks more like a mansion to me. For a developing country which is still struggling with its economy to have such a huge mansion like this for its president really triggered my mind. I was made to understand that there are a lot of people in Laos who are still struggling with their daily life, but this is a huge mansion and its maintenance cost per se might have save several needy families. But, well… that is life anyway. Never fair.
Aku ambil gambar istana yang nampak macam rumah agam pada aku. Entahlah, aku berbelah bagi. Bagi aku, kalau istana presiden besar macam ni, macam mana kos selenggara dia kan? Mesti boleh bagi makan dekat ramai lagi anak-anak miskin kat Laos ni. Hidup…hidup. Mana pernah adil kan.
After I have done taking photos, than a young lady clad with an olive shirt, a jeans and a high heels stopped me. “Excuse me, can you please take my photo?”, she asked nicely whilst showing her handphone to me. Well, why not. So, I took her photo with the Presidential Palace as the backdrop.
Lepas dah selesai ambil gambar, seorang perempuan pakai baju warna hijau olive, seluar jean dan kasut tumit tinggi tahan aku, mintak tolong ambil gambar dia sambil pass handphone dia. Takkan nak cakap tak boleh kan. Haha. Aku pun ambil gambar dia berlatarkan Istana Presiden.
I passed her handphone back and was about to continue walking when I realized, she was actually looking at me as if wanted to ask me something. I turned to her and smiled before she asked me “Where are you going now?“. I told her that I have no idea. I checked my Lonely Planet and Patuxai seems like a good idea. “Can I follow you?“, she then asked.
Aku pass balik handphone dia dekat dia. Lepas tu dia pandang je aku. Dia tanya, “Where are you going now?”. Aku cakap aku pun tak tau. Ingat nak pergi Patuxai. Dia tanya lagi, “Can I follow you?”.
“It’s good to have a company since I am alone, so yes, no problem“, I told her. So we walked together to the Patuxai whilst I interviewed her during our walk.
Memandangkan aku pun tengah seorang diri, aku cakap kat dia boleh aje. Dia pun ikut aku dan kami berjalan ke Patuxai. Sambil-sambil tu, boleh aku interview dia.
She told me her name is Nung Booti, a local from the northern part of Laos. She migrated to Thailand for work. Through her, I knew that although different in nature, most people in Laos can understand the Thai script vice versa. They can even understand each other’s language though spoken differently. I think it is more or less like Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia, though different in nature, they are still intelligible.
Dia bagitau aku nama dia Nung Booti. Dia asal Laos tapi pindah ke Thailand untuk cari rezeki. Dia cerita kat aku yang tulisan dan bahasa Laos dan Thailand ni, walaupun tak sama, tapi masih boleh faham lagi. Aku rasa macam Bahasa Malaysia dan Bahasa Indonesia lah kot. Walau berbeda/berbeza, tapi masih bisa/boleh difahami.
Initially I had a hard time pronouncing her name. See, her name is Nung. Theoretically, the pronunciation should be Nung as in moon. With the U. But she told me it is like Ning or Neng as in mint and germ respectively. I asked her “So, why the U? Should be I or E for it to sound that way!“. She laughed and said “I don’t know. That is just how it is spelled!“.
Asalnya, aku jadi payah betul nak sebut nama dia. Nama dia ejaan Nung. Jadi, aku ingat bunyi dia Nungla. Tapi dia sebut kejap macam Ning, kejap macam Neng. Aku tanya dia, “So, why the U? Should be I or E for it to sound that way!”. Dia gelak je. Dia kata, “I don’t know. That is how it is spelled!”.
Whilst walking along the Lane Xang Avenue, I also saw her struggling with her high heels. I wore a flip flop, and it was the best decision ever since it was comfortable to walk along the Avenue without much hassle. So, I looked at her and shook my head. She agreed that it was her bad decision of the day.
Sepanjang jalan kat Persiaran Lane Xiang ni, aku tengok dia payah betul jalan dengan kasut tumit tinggi dia. Aku pakai selipar Jepun, jadi senang selesa je jalan. Aku geleng tengok dia. Dia setuju dia kata kat aku tu lah keputusan paling salah pernah dia buat untuk hari ni.
A walk along the Avenue was a leisurely one. It was a very long avenue starting from the Presidential Palace up until the roundabout with the Patuxai in the middle of it. Nevertheless, it was a safe walk since pedestrian walk was built parallel to the road and the quality of the road was superb. No wonder since it was built on the donation by the Japanese government.
Jalan sepanjang Persiaran ni rileks je. Jalan dia jauh, dari Istana Presiden sampailah bulatan yang ada Patuxai kat tengah-tengah bulatan tu. Tapi, jalan kat sini selamat aje sebab ada laluan pejalan kaki. Jalan dia pun cantik, guna rigid concrete. Sebab jalan ditaja kerajaan Jepun agaknya, jadi kualiti pun bagus.
Soon, I saw the Patuxai and was so excited to see this monument right before my eyes. I did not have the chance to visit the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris yet, so to see the Asian’s version of it was more than enough for me. We both crossed the road before arriving at Patuxai’s (Gate of Victory) compound. I looked back towards the point where we started walking and was shocked to see the distance.
Elok je sampai hujung jalan, aku nampak Patuxai. Terus tersengih lebar, teruja. Tak dapat pergi Arc de Triomphe dekat Paris, dapat pergi Patuxai pun jadilah. Nama pun sama maksud, Gate of Victory. Kami berdua lintas jalan dan masuk kawasan laman Patuxai. Aku pandang balik jalan yang kami lalu tadi. Gilerlah… jauh!
I think the Patuxai has some resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. Don’t you think so?
To be continued – Part 17
Lane Xang Avenue is the widest boulevard in Vientiane. It runs from the Presidential Palace to Patuxai towards Pha Tat Luang.