Saturday, December 15, 2007

Trek #2: Louang Prabang

After searching for just the right price with just the right food, we decided to go with the cheapest trekking option we could find (which was fine by me with my end-of-the-road diminishing bank account) and were to head off for a trek in the Louang Prabang wilderness at 8:30am Wednesday morning.

We were picked up and shuttled off to the start of the trek with a hurtin' Lily and Emerald. I wasn't feeling so hot either to start. We all had a bit of a sore throat, and tried to convince ourselves that the achey muscles we aquired were not the warning signs of Dengue Fever, but rather the aftermath of some radical rope swinging. We trekked for about 5 hours through jungle and a few Hmong and Khamong villages seeing a scorpion (dead) and a few other unwelcome insects. Our guide wasn't much help in the field of information since his english was limited and he was fighting a hangover from drinking too much Lao Lao the night before.

We arrived at our home-stay in the Khamong village, and Lily wasn't feeling too hot. While I went and played with the village children (pulling out all the tricks that I had on the last trek including air guitar, follow-along songs, and the human swing), Lils had developed the chills, and wrapped herself in warm clothing and blankets by the fire...chills...another sign of Dengue, but we were all determined that she didn't have it. Everyone gets a bit of a scare when traveling in SE Asia, and because she is so sensitive to skeeter bites, she was especially worried. We had a late dinner in the bamboo hut, and called it an early night, hoping to get a good night's sleep and wake up feeling rejuvinated. This was impossible due to the sound level of animals and people at the village. Roosters crowing every 20 minnutes, large animals scattering near our heads, and village men drinking and talking loudly were not condusive to a good night's sleep!

In the morning, Emerald and I still had a trace of a sore throat and some sore upper body muscles which I accredited still to the rope swings, but Lils was not feeling any better. She decided that she would go back to town and check into a guest house and get some antibiotics so that she could get back on her feet. She was lead by one of the men in the village an hour down to the main road, and made it back safe and sound, and Emerald and I continued on.

We hiked 4 hours to the next village and arrived early enough to get to spend some good old QT with the village kids. We taught them Karate moves, and dance moves and played games with them for a couple of hours. We marveled at the simplicity of the village, especially their shower and cleansing system...3 bamboo "pipes" that carried spring water to the village from the mountain. This is the place where everyone bathes (in their undies) washes clothes, dishes and brushes teeth. Pretty darn amazing actually. I've got photos to better tell the story.

We spent the evening sitting around a candle with 6 of the village kids and 2 of the women singing campfire songs like "Old Mac Donald" (they loved that one!) and BINGO. The kids responded with their favorite songs and we had a good old fashioned sing-alog. Amazing how much you can do even when you can speak a single lick of a language. After the sing along, we walked around and poached a couple of camfires and talked to the elders for a bit. We learned how to say a few words, and they laughed at our horrible attempts at pronunciation. It was such a special moment when we were sitting among the tribe teaching them the english words for body parts and them teaching the Khamong words.

The next morning we woke up, found a "toilet" aka, a pile of leaves, and rinsed in the bamboo shower which was phenomenal. So refreshing to rinse in nature like that. It just feels so organic and right. After breakfast, we packet our things, and on the way out of the village we stumbled upon their morning "excersizes". This consists of every member of the village joining in somewhat of a field day, or competition between the 30 families that inhabit the village. They were doing piggy-back races and fill the beer-bottle with a plastic bag full of holes races! (I got video, don't worry!) Everyone was laughing and cheering eachother on. Such a great feeling of comeraderie. We trekked another 3 hours, stopped off at a waterfall for a quick swim, and made it back to the main road in one piece, and feeling great! We were hopping that Lily was feeling better.

She met us at the trekking office in town, and seemed to be feeling a bit better. She had gone to the pharmacy and the pharmacist looked at her throat and immedietly gave here some antibiotics. We don't think it's Dengue, hopefully just a bad case of strep that the medicine will cure up in a few days. I was releived to see that she was feeling better, and up to walk around and share our last hour together. She and I did some quick shopping before I had to catch my bus out of town headed back to Vientienne where I sit right now. It was sad to say goodbye to Lils after the great time we spent together. We made so many memories and met so many great people. I'm just jealous that she has another week to go!

Had an 11 hour bus last night, an d killing time until I get on the bus headed for the Thailand border, and then onto an overnight sleeper train (yessss, love those!) I'll have a day to shop in Thailand, and then it's back on the plane headed towards the good old U S of A!

Did somebody say Lobster and Pizza Regina?

One more update before I get back...hopefully!