Nov 19, 2006

Before we build

Jit tearing up the roof

We are tearing up this restaurant to reuse the materials and make a big house for our brother and two sisters. Well actually 4 little houses connected together, with a shared bath. We’ll see how it goes.

The materials from the restaurant were donated by Lotha a kindly German gentleman. This restaurant used to be bigger but a thunderstorm with hurricane force winds struck last summer and flattened it, the structure they put back up was of necessity somewhat smaller. The wood we are taking down now has had nails taken out and put in a few times. The wood is all hardwood and much stronger, and heavier, than I am used to. I don’t know the names for all the different wood yet but will in time learn them. If I had to generalize I’d say the wood is about as dense as white oak but takes nails easier. Short grains such as the wood generically known as “mahogany”. The Lao name for the wood species is mai nyung. There is a mai nyung tree out back that is currently shedding it’s leaves in honour of the dry season’s arrival.

When new, the wood costs a lot less than oak, about thirty cents a board foot as apposed to three dollars for oak in the United States. We aren’t at all sure how much this whole undertaking will cost. I’m paying labour as a contracted cost so that there won’t be any surprises.

Work is slower here than in the US. The sun is hot and the tools are simple. I found all this out yesterday after a few hours carrying lumber and roof sheeting. The hardwood 6x6x10s were heavy. Just a little exertion and one is sweating bullets. After puncturing my feet twice with nails I went home and got my dress shoes.

Besides paying for the labour we also need to bring in an electric pole, buy pre formed concrete posts, woven bamboo for walls, electric wire, light switches, water pump and storage tank, nails, hardware, etc

Plah Dek

The plah dek has entered it’s final stages prior to being put to ferment for a year. It is already oozing juices which we tested by using it to make sour fish, kind of a fresh tasting and sour dish. Now it is being mixed with fresh brine, rice husks, pineapple peels, a couple extra large glasses of moonshine, and other secret ingredients, such as hot peppers etc.

Naman Moo?

Hydrogenated oil or not? The alternative is rendered pig fat or “naman moo” in local parlance. Canola and olive oil don’t seem to have hit the local market yet.