Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lao Airlines

Given a chance, I try to fly Lao Airlines. You could say I’m a nationalist.

So when I heard that Lao Airlines would fly from Laos to Ho Chi Minh (Saignon, Vietnam) and vice versa from January 2010 onward, I was very excited and planning to use its service. As I have Vietnamese friends and some of them live in HCM, I figured I might as well go there (I’ve been to Hanoi before). I started to look for accommodation and attractions in HCM. I first bought a ticket from HCM to Bangkok from AirAsia while waiting for Lao Airlines to officially launch its new routes and start to sell the tickets. I even booked a room in HCM.

The only thing left to do was buying a ticket from Laos to HCM. I tried to check it on Lao Airlines’ website and found the information about the flight details and costs, Vientiane-HCM for $93 for one way, and Pakse-HCM for $65. It’s pretty affordable, I thought. However, I could not book it online. In fact, the website didn’t seem to work either. So I wrote an email to its salesperson and received the worst reply ever. It went something like this:

Me: I would like to book one-way ticket from Pakxe to Ho Chi Minh on 18 February 2010. How could I do so? I have tried Lao Airlines' website but it does not appear to have that option. Can I buy it from any Lao Airlines offices such as provincial offices?

Lao Airlines’ salesperson: I would like to inform you that is not possible to book routing from Pakse to Ho Chi Minh, Because in february 2010 We will have to close Pakse airport for renovuate work.

Me: Does it mean that all flights from Lao to Ho Chi Minh have to put on hold? Is it still possible to fly from Vientiane to Ho Chi Minh?

Lao Airlines’ salesperson: Thank you for this e-mail And I would like to inform you that it's not confirm yet for the flight from Vientiane to Ho Chi Minh.

And??? Give me more info!!! With not much information being given, I decided to go to its ticketing office in Xiengkhouang and was told that the plan of flying between Vientiane or Pakse and HCM has not been confirmed even though the date of launching the first flight already passed.

A salesman suggested that I fly from Vientiane to Hanoi with Lao Airlines and then change to another airline to fly from Hanoi to HCM. It was a good suggestion except I would have to stay overnight in Hanoi and catch the flight the next day. That would mean I had to leave Laos one day earlier than I originally planned just to make sure that I could catch the flight to HCM. The timing was not too good for me. So I waited to see if there would be any changes to Lao Airlines’ plan.

Two days later, I called and checked again; I was told that the direct flights between Laos and HCM have been postponed to October 2010! Ten months later from its original date! And even when it eventually starts to fly, it’s not $93 (VTE-HCM) for one-way ticket but about $210. I wondered why Lao Airlines has to advertise its services everywhere in every media when it could not deliver them.

Sad to say, I’ve lost trust in Lao Airlines.

Now, I have to fly with Vietnam Airlines instead. And it’s not cheap.

It made me happy for awhile

I just bought Nikon D3000 from ebay and had it delivered to Laos from Hong Kong. I wasn’t sure why I needed to buy it. I have to blame it on ebay and my credit card; it’s so easy to buy things online these days.

This camera would be the second most expensive item (after Apple Macbook Pro) I’ve ever bought for myself.

Only a week after I had ordered it, I was surprised to have received it here in Xiengkhouang. I was so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. I opened and put it back in the box. It’d been in the box for almost 3 days and I only opened it again when I bought a bag for it.

The camera looks so big and bulky. It has so many functions and I don’t know what to do with it.

It’s so beautiful that I don’t dare to hold it so often. It would take me awhile before I start playing with this toy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I just want to write something

I haven't done this for so long. I have to blame it on 'Facebook'. I shall start updating my blog again and try to visit 'Facebook' less often.

Monday, May 11, 2009

People Like Us!

It felt great to mingle with like-minded people.

I just came back from “International Film Festival in Vientiane”. Film Festival in Laos! What!?

Yup. This is really happening. Check out the details here:

I didn’t expect much from this, really. I didn’t expect there would be many films made by Lao being submitted for/shown at this ‘festival’. I didn’t expect, even with some films submitted by Lao filmmakers, there would be any good ones. But guess what, there were really some good films and made in and by Lao! [Though there were not many of them. Lots of films shown were about development issues-education, AIDS, people with disabilities, UXO...produced for development projects, rather than made specially for this event]. And two really good ones were made by two filmmakers from Savannakhet (my province!); one of them is from my hometown (Seno!). What really cool was I had a chance to have a long talk with one of them, Mr Nith Lacroix (director of a documentary ‘Pierre-Pierrot’). I wanted to talk to another filmmaker who is from my hometown, Ms Thivon Muonghane (animator), but she was occupied with other thing. Both of them are French-educated.

Savannakhet’s got talent!

I joked with Nith about his next feature film (he is planning to make one) having to have protagonists performed by Savannakhet actors with Savannakhet accent! (Normally, Savannakhet people are always villains in the movies/dramas, because of our dark skins and strong accent; and the government now requires that those who work for national television and radio have to speak with ‘central’ accent, that is Vientiane accent!). Well, if he doesn’t do that, I will.

Having attended two nights of the 3-day event, I started to realize that there are actually many Lao (aspiring) filmmakers around. Two of short-films submitted for a competition with the theme “Laos, a happy country” were made by Lao students, studying at Lao National University’s Mass Media Faculty (the newly-established course!). And many Lao filmmakers are women!

Now, what we really need is space and ‘enabling’ environment.

[I know I should have done something to submit to this festival. I wanted to. I had an idea or two but didn’t manage to materialize them, again. I have promised myself (again!) to produce something while I’m in Aussie. Maybe, I will see my film being seen and talked about at the festival next year.]

A Lao feature film 'Want to be a soldier' premiered at the fest. It was supposed to inspire viewers. But it failed to do so, miserably. Too slow and with too many unnecessary sub-plots!

"Pierre-Pierrot", one of the best documentary shown at the event. Unfortunately, the last part of the doc. was censored! Damnit! [When Pierre who has been living in France was asked if he wanted to return to Laos. He replied that there was nothing to return to...CUT!]

An animated short film by Thivon Muonghane (a lady from my hometown, Seno).

A tee I got from the festival. I had to 'work hard' for this. "Oh I had to travel from Xiengkhouang, about a thousand miles, to be here specially for this event!" I explained while looking at the tee. "For that, I'll give you this t-shirt,'' an organizer responded. [Too bad, it is an L size. So I can't wear.]

Friday, February 06, 2009

We were not so gentle after all.

Here is a story: A Thai guy posted a message on Lao forum. His message went like this " I am X. I am studying at Korat University (Thailand) and would like to visit another province (in Laos or Thailand). If you are interested (?), please call me at xxxxx."

A Lao lady replied:

sawadee ka....
i'm a lao woman interesting thai men, but afraid you going to bring me
to the hell as i have heard some damn thai men did to some lao women.
i hope you are not planing to do as some of your brothers did.

from lady lao

She got the reply later, not from a Thai guy but angry Lao guys (in Lao and English) that went:

To Lao Lady,

it is very sad to know that there is a Lao woman who is so shameless and bad like you.... you shouldn't be born on Lao land... go to the hell... find the thai D*ck to F*ck... you think Lao men are not cabable of being a good husband? go and worship the thai D*Ck.. u r whore


Source (Samakomlao):

If you love me, use me.

Love me, please use Kip (referring to Lao money currency).

Very strict! I should have read the rules before I checked in.

You can climb this mountain to the moon. It's in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Warning: Welcome to our restaurant.

Life Instructions

Have fun

Do not hurt people

Strive to be happy

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Please buy a ticket first

This is an admission ticket to visit Khoun district. Photos were shot by me and the ticket itself was 'designed' by me. Nothing's fancy. I just want to take credit for it :)

I'm running out of excuses

No camera.

No computer.

No editing software.

No money.

No time.


These are some of the things that come up when someone asks me why I have not done any video or when I want to do one.

Last week, my Lao friend who aspires to make a short film/feature film called and asked me if I wanted to do a short film if he could get funding for it.

“Is USD10,000 enough for a short film?” he asked.

“Wow! 10,000? Sure!” I responded.

So now, we have MONEY. And with money we can rent a decent video camera and an editing suite, pay for actors…We can shoot our short film on weekends. We can get a newly open coffee shop and telecom companies to sponsor. We can…

“So? Do you have any nice story that we can use for a short film?” my friend asked.

“Hmm…Let me think…Hmmm…How about…Hmm…Let’s talk about it later,” I proposed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Since when only girls are allowed to be vulnerable and sensitive?

During our 'conversation' via Windows Live Messenger, my friend in Japan who just got married recently dropped the news about our friend being engaged.

My friend
: Do you know our friend SK just got engaged last December in Cambodia?

Me: No way! He never told us or me about this!!

My friend: Well, he didn’t tell me either. I just found out about this recently from his fiancĂ©e when she added me in her Facebook. She’s really cute. You can find her in my Facebook. You should check her out. You’ll like her.

Me: Nah. Forget about it. If our friend didn’t want to tell us about his engagement, let’s leave it like that.

My friend: Gosh, you sound upset.

: Not upset…just a little bit disappointed.

My friend: Right. Come on. It’s just an engagement.

Me: Yeah right. It’s JUST an engagement. Later on it’ll be JUST a wedding. We were good friends when we’re in Singapore, you know. When you are happy, you should tell your friends about it, shouldn’t you? If you didn’t tell me about your wedding, I would be very disappointed, too.

My friend: You know I would never do that, of course. Gosh, you really sound upset. If you were a girl, I would think you were in love with SK. You are so SENSITIVE!

: Guys don’t do THAT (being upset by not being informed about certain things by their friends)??

My friend
: No! Only girls do THAT.