One of the highlights of our Laos trip was the weekend trip to a village near Savannakhet where our friends Lan and Pon are from. G and M borrowed a van and kindly drove us (many, many bumpy miles). We were very happy to have their company and the benefit of their Lao language ability! We (mostly Tom) can do some communicating in Thai (especially with Lan who does speak Thai) but feel much more limited, especially in the village where people don’t slow down much for foreigners. That feeling of being a pretty dim bulb is one I’m pretty familiar with by now. 🙂 Since there aren’t any foreigners in the area, people were pretty interested in us. When we got out of the van, our kids were surrounded by other kids and it was no time until they were off doing their own thing.
The kids loved observing Silas and his funny ways and laughed at him a lot. This was at Lan’s house- a roof over a dirt floor with eating/sleeping bamboo platforms, a concrete kitchen room (although most of the cooking is done outside on clay grills) and an outdoor bathroom with a squatty potty and a large concrete tub of water for splash showers.
So many cute and sweet girlies. That’s Lan’s daughter with the braids. Claire went off around the village with a group of girls. Claire reported that they showed her their classroom and they climbed on a big log. Claire made a little buddy who wanted to be carried a lot. 🙂
Lan II (Pon’s brother, who we started calling Lan II to distinguish from Lan I), took us on a boat ride to some rock formations out in the water. We left the kids with Pon’s mom because there were no life jackets and that is a wide and deep river.
Pon’s youngest nephew, A. (there are three boys whose mama died in the shrimp farm accident a few years ago. The older two live with Pon in Vientiane). Every time I’m around this kid I want to squish him up in a little ball and put him in my bag to take home with me. See that twinkle in his eye? He is so sweet and shy and a good helper to his grandparents.
After a DELICIOUS meal of grilled chicken, laap, fish, rice, etc was eaten with village appetites, we trooped through the darkness and mud puddles over to Pon’s parents house (in case you were wondering, Pon was not around- he had to stay in Viantiane as he has nephew and sushi responsibilities). This is the house earlier in the day. I love the color!
This is how we slept, on mats on the porch with chilly, refreshing breeze blowing through. We sat around a bit and looked at family photographs, ate watermelon and watched a Thai soap opera while helping make our beds. Then us visitors all settled down in a long row to sleep while Pon’s mom hung out until very late continuing to watch tv while most of us slept. In the morning, we awoke at 5:30 in the pitch dark to a loudspeaker truck blaring LOUD party music complete with yips and yodels (very curious if you know what I mean or not). The music was followed by a long, drawn out series of announcements delivered in a lips-against-the-megaphone-monotone style. Hmmm, I think I’ll stay in bed.
Second time I awoke, Tom was gone and a little girl was perched at the foot of my bed, watching me and waiting for us to wake up. 🙂
I wandered “downstairs” which is just “outside” or “under the house” and joined the group by the morning fire…just in time to observe Lan II climb a coconut tree like it was the easiest thing in the world, and drop down some coconuts (onto a stuffed rice bag that his mom put down as a cushion for falling coconuts). Then he handily rigged up a little pully system and brought down a whole clump. Sadly we didn’t have the camera in time to capture all this.
Pon’s older brother came over from a few houses down (he’s on the right, Lan II on the left) and macheted (sorry spell check, I’m making it a verb) the coconuts for us and handed around the water and meat. Most of us agreed that the meat is more delicious than the water.
The whole gang (although I wish Lan I and Lan II were in this picture) from Pon’s house. Lan II was up on the porch changing clothes so it’s probably good this picture didn’t capture that. Pon’s mom changed into this beautiful outfit for the picture. It was interesting how privacy is not of high importance like it is to us. I handed out hand sanitizer and squirts of perfume to kids as I was getting ready and saw some things I didn’t really mean to see also. 🙂
Heading back to Lan’s house for breakfast. Lan was such a servant- making us two huge and wonderful meals. The basil chicken at breakfast was so good and obviously not what they eat everyday (Thai food, not Lao food).
Lan and Pon’s families were such generous hosts and even after all they did for us, they sent us home with two giant bags of rice from their own crops (one sticky, one white). They blessed us abundantly!!
A little more a bit later about our adventurous trip back home to Pakse! 🙂