Holding my nose while signalling with my free hand I asked if the dead raccoon dog could possibly be put on the roof…

16 Nov

It was the first time I’d smelled a dead raccoon dog and it wasn’t good.  Putrid.

I’d got on the bus in Muang La, Northern Laos heading for Phongsali, more Northern Laos.  I climbed over piles of sacks filled with rice wondering to myself why it might not be possible to stack these after the folks get in rather than have women in beautiful silk sarong style skirts and mothers with tiny babies strapped to their backs, clambering over them.

But this was Laos.

The journey was 200 kilometres on a road not yet “Chinesed”, that is, smoothed and tarmacced by the teams of Chinese road builders( which I saw many times during my trip through Laos with their huge “Cat” diggers with Chinese characters on the side).

200 km turned into 10 hours of hurtling over rough dirt tracks, through little villages.

Not long after the trip began,we stopped for a pee, a common Laos bus experience involving everyone on the bus getting off and peeing at the side of the bus.

More than once I have watched, with envy, a grandmother hiking up her beautiful patterned silk skirt and peeing standing up, thinking to myself these locals know what they’re doing!

I didn’t need to get off but couldn’t miss the hilarity outside in front of the bus.

The driver and his assistant had caught some little furry animals.  They seemed to be really pleased.  I’m still not sure what these criters were but it seemed to be a rare find (someone mentioned that they might be called bamboo rats).

One contained, they caught another and in true Lao style strapped them both, still alive, to the undercarriage of the bus as we hurtled along.

After a stop for lunch, we got going again and soon reached the dead endangered wildlife shop.  There the guy sitting in front of me negotiated and bought the raccoon dog.

It had been a beautiful animal alive.  But it smelled terrible dead.  He hoisted it through the window checking whether its bowels were emptied, this was about a foot from my nose, then placed it at his feet. Meanwhile the criminal prosecutor sitting behind me had treated himself to some dead squirrels.

The raccoon dog was not smelling good at this point.

I held my nose and wrinkled up my face to indicate to its new owner the horror of the smell.  He smiled back and after another pit spot showed me how he now had it contained in a blue plastic bag which was dripping with blood. He looked very pleased with himself.

A few minutes later even the locals were wrinkling their faces and holding their noses. I held my nose again and pointed to the roof wondering if the raccoon dog could live there before being bbq’ed that evening.

The driver’s assistant quickly made his way through the bus, got the dog, opened the front door of the bus, climbed on the roof and put it up there, all while the bus was still moving.

A bit later two local hill tribes ladies came on selling silk worms contained inside bamboo branches.  The guy in front of me bought some, presumably to eat with the raccoon dog, and delighted in showing me them!

As I got off in Phongsali I thought to myself how boring the bus journeys are going to be back home…raccoon dog sandwich anyone?


2 Responses to “Holding my nose while signalling with my free hand I asked if the dead raccoon dog could possibly be put on the roof…”

  1. Ingrid November 16, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Hi Angie, What a great story. I can smell and see it without closing my eyes. You’re a great life story teller. Do it more often!

    We just arranged our 3 month Vietnam visa. Starting on the 5th of December.


    • angiemain November 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      Hey there! I’d never smelled anything quite like it! Would be a good way to ward off bad people a sniff of it and they would run a mile! Where will yougo in Vietnam? How are the girls doing? angex

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