Sunday, May 15, 2011

"THE best tour"

We were dropped off in the village of Chaluansouk and parted ways with Sang, the second guide, who would meet us with our inflatable kayaks at Ban Nalan Tai village, our home for the night.  The village is not accessible by car.  We walked for a couple hours before reaching the “restaurant” a hut in the middle of two villages.  Our guide Pet and a local “support staff” Som presented us with a feast of sticky rice, pumpkin, aubergine and pickles all displayed on giant banana leaves.  They made us chopsticks out of bamboo and we all sat down and enjoyed a fantastic meal.  In Lao, people make small balls of rice and dip them in the other dishes.  Pet said that 30-35 balls make up a meal.  We tried to keep track of how many balls we ate during each meal, but always lost track.

After lunch it started raining and didn’t stop until we reached our destination 2 hours later.  It absolutely poured.  Yumi managed to slip on her butt again leaving another mud stain on her shorts.  We stopped at an abandoned village to hear Pet explain the government’s plans of bringing running water and schools to the area by combining villages when suddenly….ouch!  Yumi feels something stinging her leg.  It’s not a mosquito.  It looks like a piece of straw, but it hurts.  It’s a leech!  Thomas tried to flick it off, but it was sucking on tight.  Pet yanked it off.  In its place was a bit of blood.  As Yumi explained what it felt like the others soon experienced it for themselves.  Sille wasn’t sure if she was imagining a stinging between her legs.  She dropped her shorts and sure enough there was one stuck to her inner thigh.  There is no better way to bond with a stranger than trying to remove a leech from her crotch using a tobacco leaf.  Thomas also found one getting way too close to 3rd base and removed the sucker.

As soon as we arrived in the village some kids started to look at us and followed us to our hut for the night. Yumi was thinking about something to do to interact with the kids. Suddently hop scotch came up and she started drawing the game on the floor while the kids were wondering what the heck she was doing.  A few minutes later they started to understand how it worked, so they started playing. Thomas drew a bigger hopscotch to challenge the older kids and the game took like a forest fire.  The little ones were hilarious to watch.  They were very technical about the game and were quick to call any line touches. 

Thomas thought he’d have a bit of time to practice Tetsudo and went to a quiet spot near the river. Before he knew it 3 kids who were not older than 5 years old started to imitate him and use bamboo sticks. After teaching them basic stick work for about 3 minutes, it came to his mind that maybe it wasn’t the safest thing to do.  So he starated showing them blocks and 5 other kids showed up. There was no longer enough room so they all moved to the main place of the village. 

All the kids lined up and copied Thomas. They practiced until it was so dark they couldn’t see each other (and were ready by 7am the following day!)

After dinner, it was time to go frog hunting in the rice fields.  Armed with torches, a few of the older boys absolutely amazed us with their frog catching skills.  Before we could even spot one, they would have caught it, broken its legs and put it in our small woven basket.  Within half an hour, the basket was full.  The boys led us back to our "hotel" and left us with the basket of frogs.  Thomas, Sille and Catherine felt bad for the frogs and let them go...What were we going to tell the boys in the morning?! 

It was a great experience and Thomas really enjoyed teaching bits and pieces of what he’s learned in London over the past 2 years with at Tetsudo club.  The kids have very little in terms of material things, but they were all so friendly and happy.  Their constant laughter was priceless.

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