Vong the Tour company manager took me in the van with a couple of Israeli tourists to the Boat racing at a stunning location on the Nam Khan River at Somsanook. We dropped off the 2 Israelis at the busy festival site and continued a few kilometres to an area where the Company wanted to run Elephant treks. We waited for two vans from other companies inc Green Discovery Tours, the biggest of the Lao based adventure companies. The area had a small lake surrounded by green jungly mountains. An area of ivy clad trees looked like green topiary elephants; Vong and the others agreed. The rain put paid for any deep exploration;so we were soon back in the van.
Back at the Boat festival; the village was crammed with locals and stalls selling everything from hardare, Shoes, clothing and there was even a shop selling huge umbrella like satellite TV dishes. Kids and adults fired pellet guns at balloons and a noisy merry go round occupied the biggest space in the village. Almost evry house had food for sale or driks stalls with enoumaous and usually heavily distorted sound system.
I waked down to the river; where a small resort had a excellent viewpoint of the event. A noisy but quite competent heavy rock band were tuning up and getting ready for a blast of sound. I threaded my way back through the village to find the large gathering at the finish line. There were a few tourist; but mainly locals listening to the indecipherable announcements from the PA system. A marquee with VIPs and dignitaries was positioned opposite the finish line with a roped off area to keep the masses away.
There was a parade of around a dozen boats with approximately 20 rowers in each with umbrella shaded girls holding flowers and golden alms containers. After some delay and many more over amplified announcements the racing commenced. . Like most dragon boat racing the boats race in pairs over a course which looked to be one Kilometre or so. The racing was almost a backdrop to the acivity on the riverbanks and the markets in the village.
Feeling hungry I looked for something edible; most of the food at the stalls looked unappetising. It was not clear who was selling food; or whether the groups eating round tables near the river were family parties; so I didn't want to embarrass myself; or them; so walked up to the food stalls in the village. I picked some barbequed chicken on sticks. Even though I bought several there was som much bone and gristle that I barely ate ten percent of the meal.
I walked back through the village and onto the main road get a better view from the high new bridge . Racing paused for a while, so I waited with my camera on the parapet. A police officer walked across the bridge attempting to clear the way for the traffic. He politely asked me to move for safety. As I did so I came close to being mown down by a motor bike, But Hey I should have stayed on the parapet. Anyway the racing recommenced; so I was able to get a few more shots from the high vantage point of the bridge.
At three thirty; the sun came out. I met Vong who was walking down the road to find me. The 2 Israelis were waiting in the van; so we left on time. For Luang Prabang 20kms away. I took the daily opportunity to have coffee and cake at th Bakery Restaurant. The choices were delicious, I reckoned in a week here I had tried very one. I had delicious carrot cake with lemon and honey topping!
pictutrs are to be added later; I fly to Bangkok on 28th Friday