Laos

So let me start by saying, I love Laos. After the hustle, pollution, pace, and hassle of the previous countries, at least in most parts of them, when we arrived in Laos, it just all came to a complete halt, and then there was silence. Starting from the passport man at the airport, the people were so very nice.

We arrived in the capital, Vientien, and got a place that looks over the Mekong River (shown above). We spent like a week here enjoying maybe one sight per day, talking to people and enjoying the pace and view.
Next we went about four hours north to Vang Vieng. As soon as we pulled in I through my bags on the bed of the guest house-which appropriately shared the name of Pundas girlfriend. I immediately rented a bike for $1.oo per day, and drove the six km to an organic farm I had read about in Lonely Planet. A couple hours later Iwas teaching English to 30 kids age 5-12. How cool is that? After they left I had another class of 30, 13-20 year olds (although there was one woman age 21 and a 30 year old guy). After the first couple of days the numbers in the first class rose to as many as 49 youngsters including a couple of children who could not have been more than three. It didn’t matter though because they WANTED to learn-a concept I was unfamiliar with.

The organic farm was a great place, run by Mr. Thi (t), and his wife. These were two awesome people who spend their day teaching any kid or adult that comes along from the nearby villages, working and running the farm and resturaunt, and planning and building a library, community center and a youth center for the villages whose residence can not make it to the school in town. This photo above is the Nam Song River that runs along the farm. I went tubing down it three times. It’s a three to six hour trip depending on how many caves along the way you explore and how many places you stop to get Beer Lao.

This picture is from the walk down the dirt road to get to the farm.

This was the walk on the path through the village up to the community center. The kids would see me coming and know there would be a class that night. They greeted me with much enthusiasm. This may have been the best part of my day.
Here I am teaching the young group. The girl standing is my appointed translator. She spoke very good English and although she was very shy at first, like many of the Laosian girls, she was very proud of her position. Notice the sweat on my shirt. This was the beginning of class and I was usually saturated by the end. Damn, does my ass look big!
These are the older kids. Each night after class we played Rattonball-a local game played like Hacky sac, but with a wicker ball. This group comes from three surrounding villages and many did not know each other. We had a dance on my last night there-they do now!
I had a moped for two weeks to get back and forth to classes. During the day I visited the other villages to the north and south of Vang Vieng. I also would check out the caves in the area. The above photo was taken on the way to the caves.
Some caves we could visit from our tubing trip. This was either None (sleeping) cave, or Lom (windy) cave. This is Peter and Linda from Holland. A great couple, very fun. I just added another destination to my trip!
This is the young class outside. We usually started outside to play learning games-and because it was so hot inside.
This is the big class outside. I loved Vang Vieng in case you hadn’t caught that. From here I extended my visa and Kevin went north without me. He is then going to Hong Kong to see his future wife, and I am now back in the capital to get a Myanmar visa and fly out from here.

Today I was walking to this art gallery and I cut through a temple. These three monks called me over and asked me the typical questions: “where are you from, what is your name, where are you going? I sit on the bench with them and play a game of checkers-of course they are using twigs and rocks. One monk asks me to help him understand a grammar problem he is having and the next thing I know he has his work books out. Three hours pass and we are now teacher and nine monk students. It was a hoot. Before I left I drained them for monk information and was very happy with the trade.

I walked by the gallery and it had now closed. I went back to my room, got the Skip-Bo cards and returned to the monk-filled bench. They were all thrilled to learn this game. We ate some grape-like things from the tree we were under and practiced counting numbers in English as we played this simple game. What an experience. I love Lao.

I miss you all. Blog ya soon. Love Larry

Category: Travel
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