Day Sawng (Two) in Laos.

The day is only an hour or two past its midpoint and we have seen so much, felt so much.  I feel a bit spent, but adrenaline keeps me going.  Walking away from the village presents me with snippets of this village I doubt I could experience otherwise.  

The shield that comes up for protection when in an urban jungle is non-existent here.   There is no need of it in this village of hospitality, smiles and curiosity.  Somehow, a sudden hug or touch does not surprise me and I welcome and succumb to it.  Mostly, their sense of gratitude is shown with even-broader-than-usual smiles.  Not that they don’t try to sell and earn.  They do.  Lady pleeeease buy from me beautiful scarf.  Little kids add on the guilt thick with a sad look if you don’t.  But that doesn’t seem to cool the warmth they generate in me.  Wish you could see it in the photos, but I realize that when I point a camera the smile is modified.  

The town is dirt colored, peppered with burst of colors from unexpected sources.

Like a lime-green plastic rack with men’s boxers out to dry.  

Or corn on a cake-dried soil, out to dry for a purpose unknown to me.  

Or a cement house painted in a color that sharply contrasts with the straw used for most. 

But we must walk to the Hmong village.

Even as I go, this town calls me back in the guise of a confused, surprised, curious little boy that stares at us passing.

And then it happens.   That one moment I will cherish.  A little boy in the balcony of his hut,  as I pass by, joins his hands as if in prayer (the way they say hello and good-by) and I see the beginning of a smile.  He has given me his respect and his appreciation in that simple gesture and he did it with a shyness that is absolutely disarming. 

At the Hmong village we go into the home of the leader. His wife is already there.

He joins us once we are settled.  

Children and part of the village follow us to the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music is important in Hmong life; we are joined by the village qeej player who plays for us.“A player must be trained; it takes years of practice to memorize the flowery language of the instrument. Its music contains the entire repertoire of Hmong knowledge and wisdom.” (Quote from Wikipedia)       

Villagers get a kick out of one of our tribe (aka: as the travel group) that gives it a try.

The village returns to daily life as we leave. 

We head down the hill where kids from our first village (Kia Luang Village) run along the waving good-bye.  I don’t think I have a heart left.  Been leaving a piece in almost every place I go!

Next is a cruise on the Mekong river “the mother of all rivers”.  The Pak Ou Caves, (which means Caves at the Mouth of the Ou River –Ou River is a tributary of the Mekong) is our destination.  But, as expected of this country, much to see before we board…

Another weaver and scarf vendor.  “Close your eyes!”  (That’s me talking to myself.)  I don’t need another scarf!  

An elderly woman looking at us pass.  Gosh, I am marveled by these faces.  

And the piece de resistance”: home made liquor stand.  I tried it.  The crystal clear one was my first taste and it burned my inside more than anything ever has!  Think it was 70% alcohol!  The cloudy one had a    slight sweetness to it and not as strong, but then anything would be mild after the first one!  The reddish one was actually not bad, much sweeter and passable.  And what can I say about the one with the snake?  No, I did not try it and don’t regret not doing so.  

Our captain and his boat.

  

There is a breeze that is refreshing.  The boat movements are just right, providing a “motion lullaby” that would put me immediately to sleep if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t want to miss the sights that the river offers me.

The Mekong glows.  The river is said to produce balls of light along its surface, which the locals attribute to the Phaya Naga, or Mekong Dragons.  I am starting to believe…    

Am I seeing orange?  Yes!  Monks bathing along the river.  

Are those cows?  No, water buffalos also enjoying the water!

  

And we arrive!  

Climbing.  Looking back.  Really just catching my breath.  Which the landscape takes away.

  

We head back. 

The Mekong shows its beauty. 

We arrive back to Luang Prabang.  Most of the group climbs on a tuk tuk to go to the hotel to freshen up before dinner.  I and other 4 head out with our guides to a local place to have a little appetizer and the local beer (of course) at a place where we will see no other white face but us and where they only serve duck in all its forms.  

The menu. (Not for the squirmish.) 20,000 Lao Kip to the dollar. 

The Westerners are brave enough only for the beer and the grilled duck –in that order.

  

Our tuk tuk driver, which has joined us, orders blood soup.  I try to look away.  Our local guide says he used to have it and like it but his cholesterol is high and was told not to order it any more.  Our Thai trip leader has never dared.  Two girls in the table next to us are merrily enjoying theirs.  Oh my!

We take a stroll along the riverside.  Luang Prabang is beyond quaint.  It is just a perfect combination of elements that produce a lovely peaceful “I want to live here” feel.

Riverside 

Side street 

Tuk tuk back.  Obviously there is no “hands-free” law here.  

Hotel pool looking mighty tempting now but no time.  Going to dinner with the group and then dragging myself to bed!

Tomorrow you must eat a hearty breakfast because we have a loooooooong ride ahead of us.

Ready?

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Categories: Laos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “Day Sawng (Two) in Laos.

  1. Fantastic photos!

    • Sorry, but only now did I see your comment. Am seriously lacking blogging skills 🙂
      So glad you enjoyed them.
      I very much enjoy and thank you for the travel books (or books to travel with) reports. So cool!

  2. Dean P.

    Clearly enjoying yourself 🙂

  3. Lidia I am enjoying your posts more than I could have imagined. Your writing is beautiful and honest, the pictures are lovely – it feels like we’re there! Thank you!

    • Must apologize. I am not very techie (in fact, not at all) and only now found your comment.
      I also must say that I am honored coming from you. You have all my admiration on your website and the knowledge you impart to us actors, particularly in an area (finance/business of entertainment) that we hardly want to work on!
      It is I who thanks you for being with me in this journey!

  4. I’ll have some congealed duck blood please! With a sip of Cobra juice on the side!!!!! Holy moly, I love it! You words hit the mark as you describe what you see… Very nice my dear!!

    Big hug,

    Anag

    • Save some “want” for good “cobra whisky”! If it doesn’t break along the way, you will be able to try some.

  5. Awesome photos as usual…I can see how the little boy sort of grabbed your heart…wow
    Maybe the corn is drying to grind into corn meal of some form. Also have to dry them to use for next years corn crop. I’m assuming a “Deep” freezer is not found in many of their homes. Great post, thank you.

    Solar Storm Tomorrow:
    sonsothunder.wordpress.com/2012/…/sunrise-may-turn-out-the-lights…

    • Thank you for the compliment!
      You are probably right about the corn. I always want to kick myself in the butt when I don’t ask. And then sometimes when I do since I sound like a 6-year-old rapidly firing off: “And why this? And why that?”
      A solar storm?? Darn it, I missed it for not being in that part of the world!

  6. I resisted opening this post as I am so jealous of your travels, but I am so glad I did not permit my selfishness to get in my way. You are a lovely travel guide and I too am as enchanted by those faces, even in photograph. What a wonder to be ushered into the lives of others, particularly when there is such welcome.

    • How sweet of you Patrice! Can’t tell you how much your words warm my heart.
      It has been so special to form part of these people’s lives. I have felt so honored and touched by their openness and kindness.
      Saw your post on Sufjan Stevens. Thank you for introducing me to music I really liked!

  7. beautiful photos – love them , especially the portraits !

    • Your words are special coming from a fellow photographer.
      I too love the portraits the best. There is so much to read from looks, the wrinkle in the faces, the shine in the eyes, the ways the muscles rest!

  8. Mariko Ballentine

    i am in love with disarming lad
    what a blessing
    xo
    m

    • So am I, Mariko! That is an image that even if I had not taken that photograph will stay with me forever!
      Can’t believe I have been missing your classes. 😦 When I come back I will go to ALL!

  9. Loving this trip with a sweet sadness.

  10. As I view the unfamiliarity of the surroundings and the culture, I remind myself that we are all one. In all that difference, we all experience love. And sorrow. And all those feelings that life experiences bring.

    Beautiful. I enjoy these posts immensely. Thank you!

    • I have been thinking exactly that!
      As I continue my travels I find that there is much that sets us apart but so much more that makes us alike. How we show happiness, pain, sorrow and joy may be different but how we actually feel it is not different at all.
      Thanks for coming with me on this journey!

  11. OK! How are you doing…haven’t heard from you in a bit! Hope all is well and that Viet-Nam has enthralled you as much as Laos! The pics as usual tell a thousand stories…

    Big hug,

    Anag

  12. OK! You have me suspense….are things going well? Let me know you’re alright!

    Big hug,

    RY

  13. annie

    I would have had to turn away “blood soup” none for me thank you…. Love the pictures I close my eyes in between and can picture your face… Love you Lots…

    • Hello my sweet friend!
      I don’t blame you for rejecting the blood soup. So did I! Think all of us were a bit grossed out. Actually, a lot grossed out!
      Love you lots too and just have to get together with you so I can give you a big hug!!

  14. Just found your blog and this post. You have the perfect mix of photos and info. I will pop back again soon. Love your work!

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