Homestay Night at
in Naduang, Near Vang Vieng
We arrived at our home stay village
in the late afternoon. We reached it by following a rough dirt road about
four km off the main road to Vang Vieng. A number of homes in the village
were equipped to host home stay visitors. We gathered outside the main
house and common room where we were met by the village host and given cold
water infused with mint and lime.
Houses were then assigned to
us -- our host was Sim who was obviously due to give birth at any time.
She showed us to a small room in her home. The room was equipped with two
single beds with hard mattresses -- probably kids' rooms -- a ceiling fan
and mosquito netting held up by bamboo poles. During our month in SE Asia
we never had need for mosquito netting - and were seldom bothered at all
by the pests. There was a nearby communal toilet/shower room beside another
that was probably a private one for the family.
We went for a little tour of
the village. Along the way two little village girls walked with us. They
hung onto the hands of Sue-On and the other girls and wanted to be swung
them around. There were chickens, pigs, cows and other critters everywhere
on dirt streets. The homes were very basic structures but many of them
had satellite dish antennas - either rented from the government or bought
outright. A roof-covered open area of one of the buildings contained a
small stage and a giant drum . . . possibly to summon people for prayer
Even though the village no doubt
had hosted many tour groups from the West we still were a source of some
interest as we passed groups of locals. Since New Years celebrations were
still in full swing, groups of youngsters lost no time in attacking us
with their water cannons. An interesting tree along the way was the "cotton
tree" (Kopok) which had hanging seed pods that the locals harvested for
bed and upholstery stuffing as well as for insulation and for their oil.
We noticed various construction
projects around the village. The most common building materials were bamboo,
thatch, steel roofing, wood beams, and mortared cement blocks. The main
mode of transport appeared to be the ubiquitous motorbike. The landscape
surrounding the village was very picturesque: woods, streams and rice fields.
A grassy soccer pitch was part of the school grounds adjacent to the school.
Before entering the dining area
our host fitted us with long wrap-around sinh -- a type of sarongs.
Bill felt right at home in it as the material had a pattern similar to
plaid found in Scottish kilts. We returned to the common room at sunset
where we were served supper on a long table - good home cooking: laab,
crispy fried chicken, chips, curry chicken, mixed veggies and regular rice.
After the meal we were led outside
to a grassy field where a row of chairs had been set up for us to sit on.
An amp was brought out and the kids did a dance to Lao music under lights.
A number of us were asked to join in their dance . . . and later some of
the braver ones of our group were coaxed into quick stepping and jumping
over bamboo poles that the kids clapped together in rhythm. Later everyone
got involved in a sort of line dance that wound its way around the field.
At end of the dance entertainment
the kids formed circle and we walked around giving out some of the school
supplies we had brought. We made sure to save some of these gifts for the
next day's visit to a school.
We slept well but shortly after
daybreak we were awakened by unearthly sounds just outside our shuttered
window. We couldn't tell if it was someone screaming in pain, or a power
saw cutting through hardwood, or our host in labour giving birth. We quickly
dressed and on our way out for breakfast were surprised to see the source
of the screams outside our window. A group of men were gathered around
a tarp on the ground. They were in the process of cutting up the carcass
of a pig they had just butchered.
After a quick meal and a few
more photos we were on the road again. . . on our way to another day's