Overland Through Laos travel blog

wonmen in convrsation

"Smoking" whiskey in village house

Sticky rice kid

Bug spotter Baht

Kid Brothers on Na Savang Village

Na Savang village in morning sunlight

23rd September

I woke to bloody cockerels again.It seems every where I go in country areas I'm woken up by these stupid birds who think its dawn at 4am. It only takes one to start and every effin cock in the area wants to join in. I was even dreaming about them! Well I thought I was and then I realised I was awake . I settled down or a while under the duvet. Yes it as a quite chilly nigt at this high mountain village.

I was woken up again by a rhythmic, thud de thud, thud de thud, thud de thud from the village square. If I I wasn't in such a need for a pee, I'd probably not bother, as it was only 6am. The noise was going on for ages; so curiosity and bladder go the better of me.

I reached for my sweater for my brief foray over the obstacle course of wood to the toilet facilities. By the beds were a number of planks which crashed together noisily if one was not to careful with the feet. I gingerly balanced my way along the planks so as not to disturb my sleeping companions . The inevitable happened and the planks clateed togethernoisily enough to wake the dead.

Outside I looked out to see a lady crushing grain with a huge mortar and pestle It was about a metre and half high on a wooden pivot; rather like a see saw with a tree trunk at one end The thud thud de thud continued as I walked over the various bits of wood and a nose high electric cable, to get to the latrine. The smelly rating was up to 6 now so almost good enough for a long dump if needed.

I took a walk around the village in the morning light. There was a lot of activity; with a the lady mortaring the grain and kids already playing in the village square. After breakfast three girls entertained us with a game where the girls linked legs together and span round in a kind of dance they repeated this many times,

In the living room, a group of men were huddled together round a grey earthenware pot. It looked like they were smoking from what looked like a communal Arab hubble bubble pipe. What they were actually doing was drinking the local spirit or whiskey through plastic tubing. I was offered a tube to join in . The sprit was not strong around 15% but there must have been 5 to 10 litres in there. At 9:30 am with a long walk ahead; it was a bit early in the day for a long session!

We left the village and had an idyllic walk in approximately 40 minutes to a cool waterfall. Bug spotter Baht found a couple of dark red beetles which he posed with them crawling up his shirt. They were elephant bugs. A close look explained why; they had a proboscis like an elephants trunk.

Virgini took a dip in the falls; Nan climbed up the cascade posing in a precarious position before disappearing behind the torrent of water. After that brief rest. we continued upwards through rough bamboo forest, where Baht played with a tethered goat. We found a camp in the forest which was temporarily abandoned. The bamboo was dense in places and the low branches caught many times on my backpack. The trail, was very muddy and rutted in places where motor bikes and tractors had churned up the sand track.

Out of the forest we passed a house where some chanting was going on. Inside a fortune Teller was chanting and man was banging a gong The black hooded fortune teller was in what appeared to be a trance. He was standing on a bench, leaping off it and crouching on the floor He had been repeating this action for some time as a way of removing the bad spirits form an ill member of the family.

We left the house and after crossing a river or two; continued to another Hmong Village. Ban Hayuaka; where we were to have lunch. Some took us to the simple thatched school; where I became a human bell clanger, after hitting my head on an old car 'wheel used as the school gong. As usual Some warned me to be careful. He did that every time I tripped or became entangled in a vine or overhanging branch!

There as a lot of activity here, including a blacksmith tempering a curved blade with water pouting over the red hot metal to cool and harden it. There were a lot of kids around and we watched some kids pulling a boy on a sled made from a plastic container. others Kicey an Old sanday aroud the dust as a substiture for a football.

Its funny that in the 21st century with all the technology and expensive playthings for rich kids; all the children need here are a few sticks, old flip flops and a few bits of plastic. "Oh it takes me back to the old days; when on the TV series; the Blue Peter team could make some amazing things out of a few fairy liquid bottles, cardboard and sticky backed plastic!"

Back on the trail after lunch, Bug spotter Baht found yet another creepy crawly; a bright green praying mantis. He played with it on a stick. It was a female with egg sac clearly visible. He set it down on a tree and we continued our walk in what had now become hot and humid conditions. The scenery here never ceased to enthral us with almost every turn in the path gave yet another wonderful landscape view. Tom noted to me that he felt the trek had become a photo tour! Well in a sense almost very place can have photographic content and I was happy to be a catalyst .

At 3 pm we passed through one of the many Teak tree plantations. The Lao Government were doing a lot to redress the damage done my decades of de-forestation. The teak trees will grew for about 50 years then will be cut down for timber. After this length of time the trees can become hollow and eventually rot from the inside.

At the end of the walk we arrived at the main road t the village of B Ladthare. We only had a few minutes to go. In that time I saw a man at a water pipe washing an animal . On closer view it was his pet dog, all soapy and soggy. As I pointed my camera at him; he grinned and dunked his dog in the water again for me. I promise him I'd send him a photo, which I did with many others that I took on the trip.

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