Every single cat I’ve seen in Laos has a mangled tail. Sometimes it’s completely missing, sometimes it’s just half the size it should be and sometimes it’s crooked in the middle. The explanations for this given to me are as follows:

1. There are a log of stray dogs around the place and they probably bite the cat’s tails off.

2. Cat’s are considered perfect creatures in Lao culture. As such, people break their tails to remove their perfection. I don’t know why they can’t continue to exist as perfect creatures.

If you think cats have it bad, at least they’re not eaten like dogs. Apparently beating a dog while it’s still alive helps tenderise the meat. I don’t think dogs are too widely eaten here. They certainly don’t sell it openly in restaurants around town. I think under the Lao Buddhist principles it is one of the animals that you should not eat. Other animals, according to my Lao language teacher, include snakes, cats, and horse.

The recent news in Vientiane is of random macchette motorcycle knife attacks taking place around town. I’ve heard of these from only my Lao language teacher, who claimed that he went to a meeting about it in his village where it was decided that everyone should keep their children at home once it gets dark. No one I have spoken to has been able to verify this story, and I’ve asked quite a few people about it. The chances are they I’ve helped perpetuate the rumour.

There have been quite a few robberies of late of volunteer’s houses. One volunteer was followed home on her way back from work. One night while it was raining, which I’ve been told is a time when robbers tend to strike because it’s harder to hear them and chase them, someone jumped their fence and stole two pairs of sneakers. Another time, someone wondered in and stole a bottle of perfume. Another volunteer had his house broken into 5 times, and the robbers must have had keys to the place because they unlocked some cupboards. He’s since moved into a more secure apartment on his own, but lost about $1000 worth of personal possessions.

The Lao telephone culture seems to make it perfectly acceptable to give a person’s number to someone else, even if they have never met. Many volunteers get calls and text messages from random people. It’s kind of a strange, stalking-like behaviour, but without the malice.

In a random personal note about my own stupidity, I read 280 A4 pages of what I thought might have been the latest Harry Potter book after downloading it off a wordpress blog. The downloaded book’s ending was missing. After since reading a little of a real copy of the book I have since found out that what I read was a fake. I did have my suspicions throughout, such as when reading the multiple sex scenes, but it was a pretty interesting read and I don’t feel all that duped by it.

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