Monday, April 13,
Day 11 of our adventure:
We left Vilayvong Guest House
in Vang Vieng after breakfast and took a 20 minute drive to the school
that is given some sponsorship by our tour company. At Beam's suggestion
we had purchased school supplies to present to the students. School was
out for the New Years Holiday, but kids gathered when they knew we were
coning. Not all the students were there but there must have been around
50 little ones. They came rushing to the bus when we got off, and we thought
for sure they were going to douse us with water (traditional New Year's
celebration). But they must have been strictly forbidden to do so as we
came bearing gifts.
This school is very poor. The
kids sat on old benches in the school yard and sang New Year's and school
songs to us. They wanted us to sing for them, but no one seemed to know
a song common for all the countries we represented, except when Sue-On
suggested "Row Row Row Your Boat"! The British girls didn't know how to
do the "round" and everytime Sue-On tried to get it going, they'd get back
on with the second round melody. LOL!
We had purchased gifts of notebooks,
pencils, colour pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, markers, and they
were all displayed on long tables. We could see they were excited! They
sang a couple more songs for us, and we took lots of pictures. Bill wandered
around the school taking photos of the classrooms, the very rustic playground,
closeups of the kids, the nearby "canteen" stall, and a very unusual school
"bell" (actually just a rusty old metal cylinder that hung in front of
the school house).
After we enjoyed their performance,
we were invited to sit at a table set out with a huge bowl of hard boiled
eggs, bags of chips, and bottles of water. The teachers came and gave us
blessings and tied colour yarn bracelets on our wrists. The kids then joined
in that ritual. We were all pretty colourful! Then Bill and two of the
other older men had leis placed around their necks.
Next thing we knew, there was
a "water bottle" coming around with a small cup ... OK, we thought ...
another part of the ceremony. We all had to take a drink, and WHOA!!! MOMMA!
LOCAL RUM!!! Sue-On isn't used to liquor, but she gamely swallowed the
sip she took. She laughed and sputtered out a "Whew! WARM... WARM... all
the way down to my toes." Bill gamely finished off her cup.
Then we were given a lump of
sticky rice and a hard boiled egg. This was because we were travellers
and they were giving us food and drink to carry us through to the next
destination. Somehow, Sue-On ended up with three eggs, in fact our group
of 15 ended up with over two dozen eggs. In the past, they would kill and
cook a chicken, but that would have deprived the village of a lot of food.
We were all polite in accepting but none of us dared to eat the eggs because
we just didn't know how long they had been sitting without refrigeration.
Our local Lao guide, Mr. Thong, had no such fear and he gamely took them
off our hands.
Next stop: Vientiane!