Waterfights and Hilltribes
Trip Start Nov 14, 2006
90Trip End Ongoing
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The prices of the rooms were a bit over our budget but this was because it was the Laos new year. It lasts about four days and the whole town comes out to celebrate. On the first day of the celebrations we hired some bicycles and had a mooch around town. We found a little waterfall and by the time we reached it we were soaked right through. To celebrate the new year they have a four day water fight. Kids with Super-soakers, women with pans and blokes with hose-pipes lurk behind parked cars and in doorways waiting for anyone to come their way
The village we stopped at consisted of 72 families. Yin could speak the language and he told us of their traditions, social problems and attitudes towards tourism. It was a real experience and after a couple of glasses of home-made whiskey Amy would have a 'moment'
We bumped into Steve and Christine (the Ozzy couple from Halong Bay) who had armed themselves with a water pistol each and we had a few drinks with them and Jo. We also met up with Finnish Jo again. The day after we decided to get equipped and spent a good half hour checking out a variety of water pistols. After finding the right weapon to suit our needs we joined the celebrations. It was extremely good fun. I got revenge on Tuk Tuk men and other westerners seeking revenge on all the kids who had been soaking them in the preceding few days. The party moved down to the banks of the Mekong River where there was music, dancing, Beer Laos and mud fights. Truly a special day. We bumped into several people we had met elsewhere, a young Canadian form Malaysia, Tim who we met on a bus in Vietnam, Mushroom Expert Mike and two young Canadian girls from Vang Vieng, English Hugh from Cambodia, and Bicycle mad Maurice, Amy's lecherous American friend
We left for Chaing Mai, Northern Thailand after the festival, which meant a 12 hour slow boat, one night stop over, another 12 hour slow boat, one night at the border and an eight hour bus ride to Chaing Mai. We completed this unforgettable journey with Steve and Christine which was great but the rigid wooden seats on the boat were really not very good.
The Laotian people blew us away. Friendly, happy, smiley people. Good humoured in a pleasing, surprisingly sarcastic way. A few times I would ask a waitress if I cold get Fried rice to which she would reply "No!" then walk away in hysterics. Despite it being the most bombed country in the world (by the Yanks in the 70s) and officially being a communist country, you would never be able to guess what the people have endured in the recent past. There was no sense of ill feeling towards westerners/tourists and so far the people here top our list.
After India I just thought how lucky we were to come form England or Europe etc. We are in many ways but in some ways we are not. We are free, rich, educated and looked after by the state(?) and all that but in some ways we are worse off. Everyone in Asia smiles, they seem happy, life is more simple and easier in some respects. The new year celebrations in the streets of Luang Prabang was very special. The main thing that stood out for me was the groups of young adults and teenagers all dancing, throwing water and flour at each other and laughing together