I decided to head to Savannaket to do a 2 day guided-trek in Dong Natad National Park. There was 7 of us. The first day was spent trekking through the national parks forest and learning how the minority people survived off it. We saw how the locals extracted oil and drinking water from the trees, and how stole honey from the bees. There was much branch and leaf eating involved, a bit too much for my liking!
When I asked what animals there were to see we were told "insects'!!! Of course we could hardly contain ourselves. Such exotic wildlife!! Sure enough we saw stick-insects, butterflies, mosquitoes and spiders. Wow!! I strategically placed myself towards the back of the group to avoid any web-breaking activity!! The spiders love weaving their webs right across the pathway. Not that I'm scared of spiders of course! It's just some looked a little large for my liking with their fangs on show. We did see a poisonous snake which added some excitement and terror!!!
It had been arranged that a family would put us up for the night in the local village. It was a lovely homestay. The village children all seemed very curious. Ray and I ended up teaching them hop-scotch which they soon got into! The elders prepared food and decorations for our official "Welcome Ceremony". This involved the head of the house making a speech, before welcoming each of us individually, offering us a gift, tying white thread around our wrists and wishing us luck and good fortune in life. This was then followed by each elder and the children too tying thread around our wrists and mumbling blessings in Laos. The gifts varied for hard-boiled eggs and bananas to wafer- biscuits and crisps. I got all the biscuits luckily!!! hee hee
The next morning was an early start to visit the monks at the nearby temple. It was a good insite into a typical buddhist ceremony. I have seen so many temples here but never attended a ceremony. The family provided us with sashs and sins to wear and gave us offerings for the monks. The monks later distribute the offerings to the poor people in the village. The offerings amused me. Only beacuse there were wafer biscuits, crisps, more crisps and the odd ball of sticky rice. A healthy diet for the poor!! (Or a bunch of happy monks!). By the end of the ceremony all three monks had an enormous bowl of goodies and balls of sticky rice that had been mauled by a number of people to dish back out!!?!!! Yummy...
Then it was onto the local high school. We all thought we were just paying a visit. Before we knew it we were involved in an english class with me constantly getting picked on by the teacher for pronunciation lessons, being the only "english" person in the room!!! God knows what there english will turn out like!!