Mission Kitty: Nong Khai

Trip Start May 28, 2008
Trip End Aug 26, 2008

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Before crossing the border into Lao PDR (The Lao People's Democratic Republic is the correct name for what we just call "Laos"), we decide to post a seamail (surface mail) package home from the border town of Nong Khai, Thailand.

At three months in transit, we should be home before the box. We want to keep our backpacks as light as possible, so we pull out some maps and tourist papers we want to keep, a book, a couple items of little-used clothing, and the aforementioned lethal Thai kitchen tools. Brief disappointment that there isn't room to send back one of the big handmade bamboo steamers with basket cover that we've grown accustomed to already, but we'll have to get that some other time. There does appear to be a large void that could hold that Hello Kitty doll Stirling has seen a dozen times in various cities.

While Laura and kids wait at the post office, Dad makes a break for it in the rain on Mission Kitty: Nong Khai. Hello Kitty everything is ubiquitous in Asia, so this shouldn't be too hard to surprise Stirling with an HK plush doll to send home.

Found the market in 60 seconds, good start. HKitty store in 3 minutes, on a roll.
No stuffed animals. Foiled.

With a very chic Hello Kitty umbrella now in hand, proceed from market stall to market stall hugging dolls and pointing to kitty picture in vain shopper pantomime. HK MIA in Nong Khai. Market goes on block after block, but no soft HK anywhere. Mustn't give up, must be here somewhere.

Found an English-speaking shopkeeper. Information! The woman who specializes in plush toys lives on the next road over, down past the noodle shop, and near the temple.

Dashing down wet alleys in Nong Khai. Many monks... must be near temple. Eureka! Plush Anime dolls! Not just one room, but 4 connected together and packed to the rafters with Hello Kitty, Ultraman, Winnie the Pooh, and every other stuffed animal under someone's trademark or intellectual property protection elsewhere in G8 industrialized nations. Whoohoo!

A bit late back the post office, but well worth it for the happy smile as Hello Kitty (and baby Ultraman) get packed up for their trip home to San Diego. Back to market for a round of Thai Ice Teas, a stroll along the Mekong river, and a tuk-tuk to the border Friendship Bridge to reach Lao PDR.
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