John Salter on Lao Bunnings and Rice Paddy’s.


We call our local hardware shop Bunnings , only because it makes it easier to say than Sopthaineuthang.

Now in Phonsavan there must be 50 Bunnings type shops, all selling the same range of goods. At one end, Cement, then reo rod (no mesh here you make your own), Gal pipe, roof tiles, Poly pipe, Alfoil thick wriggly tin roofing iron, tanks, toilets, blue pipe and then the main shop.

Well this has it all, everything that you might ever need to build or construct, to drill , modify, direct or adjust. The only problem being that you now have to find it. No customer easy layout here, just boxes and boxes of gear stacked everywhere. Most on the floor, a bit in racks, no prices, no order, no idea what is where. So off you go delving here and there through box after box checking sizes and fitting.

Sometimes the Owner will come to assist but should he smile or stike up a conversation with you then you can put money on the fact that within 10 nanoseconds the real boss (his wife) suddenly stops doing her nails and, complete with calculator and order book, pushes hubbie away with grunt and proceed to reassess the bill. Nooooo deals here mate.

You give her your bag of goodies, ask for help in finding the missing items, get no reply but the bill ( of which you have no idea what is what  or how much, as it is all in Lao) Pay as you have no other option and depart.

Ahhh for a real Bunnings, service, layout, prices, and a bbq snag.

The rice has been planted and starting to grow, turning a once dry yellow landscape into a lovely green terraced rice field.
Pretty bloody amazing really.

John Salter, Phonsavan, Xiengkhouang Province

DSCF5810 DSCF581120130628_131951