Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Chinese Buffalo" Tractor - Laos

Just for edification and reference -- I came across this photograph (on the Internet) of a "Chinese Buffalo" tractor from Laos.

Marvelously utilitarian, presenting many interesting possibilities of rigging and operation, and fun to watch moving about in village or city traffic! However, my first-hand experience with the mechanical sort of Buffalo is limited to Burma. I never laid eyes on such beasts whilst traveling through the countryside from Thailand, through north-central Laos, Vietnam, and into Cambodia -- areas where I now suppose sitings of "Chinese Buffaloes" would be commonplace. I will continue to keep my eyes wide open for more intel on these most interesting machines and their permutations.


Where to Begin?

I have started this bog at the behest of friends and colleagues, and also many of the fellow travelers that I have met on the road. My posts are simply intel and commentry on places I have visited -- interesting (IMHO) "sights and exeriences," and the basics of accomodations (mainly hostels and guesthouses and campsites), food and drink, and methods and means of conveyance.

I am mostly a solo voyager. I enjoy musings on things prosaic: historic background, economy, domestic architecture, cemeteries, funny or (at least to me) incomprehensible signage, etc., etc. etc. I will share these thoughts and observations.

My life has been greatly enriched by traveling and I hope to continue for a long time to come.
I have met really wonderful people and also those who were great irritants, scary, and knaves.

My nickname -- the Chinese Buffalo, was given to me whilst traveling in Burma in 2006. I have been called many names before, but this handle resonated with me and stuck. To explain, the Burmese people use machines imported from China that essentially consist of an engine mounted on an often greatly and modified tractor. These devices are used for all sorts of purposes -- from hauling people and goods, to powering plows and a myriad of other devices. They are valued and efficient machines that have just about replaced the traditional water buffalo, and are commonly referred as "Chinese Buffaloes."

I was in the city of Mandalay, preparing for a trip down the Irrawaddy River to visit the ancient temple complex of Bagan, when I stopped to help a mother (with two young children) who spilled bags of fruit and vegetables and other packages from a wagon she was pulling. The fruit and veggies rolled all over the street and down a hill and the large packages ripped and emptied. I simply spent some time running after the produce and helping tie up the boxes and rearranging the load back into the wagon and then pulling it across a bit of rough track and over a curb. The lady smiled and said with very good English that I was her family's "Chinese Buffalo!"