Thursday, 11 July 2013

Home Stay, Ban Lad Khammune in Laos.



We woke up super early for another six hour boat journey and well… The homestay was the weirdest thing I have, and ever will, experience. When we got here, it was raining heavily and the entire village, of three hundred people, was just coated in mud. Getting to the house was a gruelling and terrifying challenge, it was like being on an ice rink, except sometimes my foot just got totally stuck in the mud so we had to do it shoeless instead. There was some story telling on arrival - The Lao gov tried encouraging the use of condoms to the chief of the village to reduce birth rate, a doctor was sent down to show him how to use it, he demonstrated on a banana, a few months later the doctor returned and the chief complained it didn’t work turns out he’d just been putting it on a banana. I'm sure it wasn't true, but it made me chuckle regardless.

It really hit me today what third world life is like. The kids are fortunate enough to have a school, but girls only go till young age then are married at 13 usually to someone a lot older, then just mother children. Most boys are sent to the city to be monks as its free education. The conditions here are just mortifying, my heart went out to them all, I wish we could help them somehow, well I guess we are by being here because we gave them £15 each for the night, but it’ll never be enough.
We were given a tour around the village, there was nothing to see really but a whole bunch of girls followed us, they were the cutest children I’ve ever seen, I fell in love with them all, I want to take them home, I got more videos and pictures of them then anything else.
Later, when we were shown our ‘room’ aka a carpet on the floor of the entrance to the house, the girls just stood there playing, fascinated with us and with each other having so much fun. It just breaks my heart to know their futures are likely to be so dark. There’s a real community feel here. The male that owned our house was really mean to the dog it made us sad, the little girl kept trying to drag it out too which was funny, she had the cutest smile and little giggle. Whilst I was trying to sleep, the girls were just staring at me through the window, slightly creepy but adorable too.
A very rough photo of me being tired and hungry.
These sweet families just take us in. We all sat round a large table to eat dinner, naturally I hated it all but I tried a bit. Some were given dog to eat, kept it in their mouth and spat it out when they weren’t looking, while others did eat it. We then moved over to the other house again for a traditional Laos ceremony. Usually they only do it once a year but they make a special effort for their guests. It was the weirdest sweetest most heartfelt thing I’ve ever experienced.
They sat round chanting for a while, whilst we were all on our knees resting a hand on the centre piece. Eventually, they took some threads off and before you know it, left right and centre all these lao people are grabbing your wrists and tying string around them. Little children join in and grab you too. Its supposed to keep all 32 spirits locked inside you that you lose or gain when good and bad things happen in your life. It was chaotic, they all chant at you whilst they do it, wishing you to be safe and happy and free from harm etc. I have about 30 bracelets on each wrist. It was cool but so so weird, I’ll post vids when I get a chance.
After you have to eat a boiled egg, rice that tastes like porridge wrapped in a bamboo leaf and a little cake along with a banana and a shot of whiskey. I haven’t had any whiskey up till that point but thank god, its vile! its called Lao lao whiskey and its poison I swear. Of course it would be rude to refuse it, but it really stays at the top of your chest and just burns! They then started playing drinking games, one guy plays music on a xylophone whilst everyone claps along, the music then gets faster and faster then suddenly stops. If you clap once the music has stopped, you have to do a shot. I’m the only one on the tour who doesn’t drink, I’m just not in the mood here and also I hate travelling with a hangover, I like feeling good when I wake up so I have the energy to explore the next place. It annoys me how much everyone pressures you to drink. Our leader Rick says we don’t have to, but everyone else just shouts at people till they do it. So I pretended to go for a cigarette when it came to my turn. I had a few sips of the rice wine they bought out. It was it a big tub of compacted rice and you all drank through a little pipe, very weird. Eventually, around 10pm our hosts wanted us to return so we ventured back.
When we got back to our house we used candlelight to go to the toilet. They’re all squatting toilets and it was so slippery I almost died, didn’t help I couldn’t see either. All around very interesting and enlightening night.

I look very scared haha. It was more confusion!
Rice Wine.

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