You know those movies where there is a crazy person in the hostel who might kill you?
I kinda lived through one of those episodes one night in Laos.
I just opened my door and I was punched!
It started during the day, in Vientiane when I met a guy, I’ll call Shen Jing Bing.
This individual was a self-professed movie maker looking for Chinese people to buy their stories of love in Laos.
He sat with another Chinese individual and I, trying to convince the other individual to sell him his story, while seemingly uninterested in my asking if he wanted a kung fu star in his show. The other Chinese national was also uninterested in Shen Jing Bing’s offer to buy his stories – I’m not sure if it was because he lacked a story to sell or was uneasy around Shen Jing Bing.
Shen Jing Bing then left to meet a Korean writer who was going to pen the script of his movie, and was replaced by a younger girl and an older gentleman.
The older gentleman Bei Tou Le had just returned from the police station.
He had walked there with his lady friend, Xiao Gu Niang, to report the theft of his money.
From what I understood, he had almost 9000 RMB with him in cash during this trip. Somehow, he had left that money in his backpack in the dorm room, and at least 4000 RMB worth had been stolen.
It was his first time out of China, so maybe his inexperience, and age, led him believe he couldn’t take any money out of the ATM machines. Still, 9000 RMB was a huge sum to carry around in cash, and losing almost half of it is heartbreaking.
After the quick briefing on his situation, Bei Tou Le and Xiao Gu Niang left with two other Chinese individuals to grab some food.
I sat there talking to some of the hostel guests for a bit, then I too set off to find some dinner.
Along the way, I encountered the group of four Chinese tourists and ate some street food with them. On our way home, we took a nice long scenic walk and was finally about to reach our hostel when we ran into Shen Jing Bing.
Shen Jing Bing told Bei Tou Le that he wanted to help him get his money back. I gathered, from his conversation with Xiao Gu Niang and the other Chinese guy walking with us, that Shen Jing Bing was going to enlist the help of local thugs to harass yet another Chinese guy who was suspected of stealing the money.
Xiao Gu Niang would have none of this and told Shen Jing Bing not to be involved. We watched as Shen Jing Bing mounted his bicycle and headed off into the night.
We then hung out outside the other Chinese guy’s hostel. I spotted a ukulele player and told that player that I’d eventually go get my ukulele and play with him after spending some time with the Chinese people.
As I was showing the Chinese people my photos, Shen Jing Bing reappeared with what looked like a Lao local. They both sat down with us at our table.
Once again, Shen Jing Bing said he was going to rough up the guy he had suspected of stealing Bei Tou Le’s money. Xiao Gu Niang and the other Chinese guy said they really didn’t want to make the situation any worse than it already was.
During the course of his monologue, which Xiao Gu Niang and I kinda ignored, he picked up a glass cup and slammed it onto the table. That caught my attention and made me look up. I thought our attention was all he wanted, but he picked up the cup and slammed it down hard again.
This time, he shattered the glass into a million pieces. In doing so, I noticed there were streaks of blood all over the table and quickly looked up. There was huge gash on his hand. I was just about to see if he was ok, when Xiao Gu Niang and the other Chinese guy pulled me away and told me not to get involved with him.
My curiosity always gets the better of me – probably a journalist instinct, but Xiao Gu Niang grabbed my arm and kept pulling me away. I then walked Xiao Gu Niang back to our Guesthouse down the street as she returned her bicycle.
She was tired and exhausted from the ordeal and wanted to go to bed, so I bade her good night and walked another Chinese guy to the convenience store. Some ladyboy had scared the wits out of this other Chinese guy.
When I got back, I picked up my ukulele and went to jam with the other guests as promised.
So I sat at the previous hostel, jamming away with the tourists, when suddenly, Bei Tou Le appears.
“Please find the other two Chinese people who were with us,” he requested in Chinese. “I would like to make a police report.”
“Why, what’s wrong?” I asked.
He said Shen Jing Bing, who earlier had offered to help him, had just gone to his hostel room and hit him!
“I just opened my door and I was punched!” said Bei Tou Le.