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July 25th, Luang Nam Tha, Laos, Kayaking Adventure

LAOS | Friday, 25 July 2008 | Views [878] | Comments [1]

We woke up early to get ready for our trip.  We separated our gear and put the stuff we would be bringing into the dry bags Kyle had bought for the trip.  I would have to go without my pillow for another night, no room, and kind of ridiculous on a kayaking trip to think I might bring my pillow.  We dropped off our bags at Green Discovery to be stored while we were gone and then went back to the restaurant where we had dinner to have some breakfast.  Again the man and the wife both had to leave at one time or another to get supplies for our breakfast.  First he left on the moto to get bread, then she left later on the moto to get eggs, and he walked next door to buy margarine too!  It was so odd.  The only thing Kyle could think of was that maybe they had been closed for a while with the baby and they had just reopened and didn’t have all the supplies.  I think they just didn’t have the funds to keep the kitchen stocked and let food go to waste if the customers didn’t come.  Kyle called it an extreme example of ‘lean management”.

We went back to the Green Discovery office and met our guide.  We got into a pickup and went to the market to get the food for our trip, Noi, but spelt Yoi, told us we could walk around for 15 minutes while he shopped.  Kyle and I thought it was odd that he was wearing dress slacks and a collared short-sleeved shirt, but later after leaving the market we had to stop at his house so he could get his gear and change.  I guess when he went into the office that day he didn’t know if he would be going on a tour or not.  I was so happy that we had picked kayaking because we heard that the treks were very muddy at this time, and you couldn’t walk fast enough to keep the leaches off you!  They had also tried to get us to join this different kayaking tour that went through bigger rapids but we didn’t think that was a good idea.  Luckily we didn’t pick that because the man who went on that trip had to end it after just 6 hours, the water was so rough that even the guide and his assistant flipped over!

We stopped at a guesthouse restaurant to pick up our lunch and get the kayaks.  The Boat Landing is a guesthouse that Bill Tuffin started in conjunction with Green Discovery.  We met Bill at the Golden Banana (our haven) in Siem Reap.  While we stopped there Kyle and I checked out the rooms to see if we wanted to stay there when we got back from our trip.  We booked it!  They seemed nice, no ac but clean and pretty, like little bungalows on the river.

When we got to the river Yoi (pronounced Noy) gave us some instructions, I had more confidence in him than in our guides in Vang Vieng.  He loaded all of our supplies in the front of his kayak; these kayaks were again different than the other two we had used.  This was inflatable and Kyle was to sit up on the very back tip of with his ass in the water, hehe.  His big ‘ol American ass!  I just sat in the front and acted as the engine, Yoi said.  I love paddling but I didn’t get to do that much paddling since the river was moving so fast, Kyle was the one in charge of steering.  We stopped at a village where the women shaved their eyebrows off and still wore traditional dress.  The government had moved them to this location within the last 50 years, where they used to live is in the protected area of the forest.  The Lao people are notorious for slashing and burning the lush jungle in order to grow crops.  This is very bad for the soil and the environment so the government had to step in.  Yoi made it sound like this village was not a very good one, they had had lots of trouble with opium, growing, smoking and selling.  And when the government cracked down on that they village became very poor.  They didn’t have very many other crops that they were able to grow enough of to sell.  This village had a plethora of naked little boys running around.  One was even using this large, heavy hoe to chop into the dirt looking for worms.  Yoi was very nervous watching him, he kept saying “oh no, oh…oh…oh no!”  Then this other little boy that was fully clothed came running over too us and whipped out his penis and was grabbing it and like showing it to us, he was even making some crude yelling sound while he did it.  Very strange.  We only stayed here for about 10-15 minutes and one of the older women gave us these little pouches.  We asked how much, but Yoi said that they were gifts for us for visiting their village.  He then slipped her some kip.  This was ok because a percentage of the fee we paid to do this trip is supposed to go back to the villages.  Of all we witnessed and learned about Green Discovery we were very pleased at how they ran their business, very ethical, with the people being most important not money.  They also had monthly meeting with all the chiefs of the villages where they do the home stays just to make sure they are still happy.

As we left the village and got back in the kayaks Yoi told us that we were about to come to some very large rapids.  Oh no!  He told us to follow him and approach them the way he does.  When we got into the waves I was bouncing around like crazy, slamming down into the waves.  I was able to stay in the boat!  Kyle was submerged up to his chest every time we hit the rapids, so I was three feet in the air unable to reach the water with my paddle and Kyle was in the back practically all the way in the water!  But we made it!  I think Yoi was impressed, but Kyle is really strong and smart so he was able to steer and paddle, and I would paddle like mad when I had the chance!  We went down the river for another hour and then stopped at a village to have lunch.

I was a little worried about the lunch, especially when he pulled out two whole, cooked fish that had been wrapped in banana leaves and in a plastic bag in the kayak all day.  Not very safe!  When we got to the village we walked to a house and sat at a little basket type round table that was low to the ground.  We each had sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf.  Then we had some zucchini type squash that was for all of us to share, then the fish, and some chili type paste to dip our rice and other food in.  The way to eat the sticky rice is to pick up some of the rice with your hand and ball it up and then bite some of it off or pop the whole thing in your mouth.  Kyle loved this way of eating.  We had chopsticks for the fish and veggie.  Before every meal Yoi did this thing where he would take a little rice ball and tap it over each item of food and he would say a blessing, then he usually threw the rice ball off somewhere.  Even though I was worried about the safeness of the food it was really yummy.  And there were these two little cats that were meowing like crazy to have some of our fish.  The woman of the house kept trying to put them away in this other room but somehow they found their way up to the roof and got out of the room and then jumped down to where we were sitting.  When we were done eating we gave them some fish and then they wanted nothing to do with us, once they were full.

We waited out two rain showers after lunch and then went back to the river.  Yoi was never in much of a hurry since the river was going so fast we would make it to the village we were going to sleep at early no matter what.  We went down the river for another two hours or so and then arrived at the village.  The head of the house was not back from the rice fields yet, but Yoi showed us to a room where we could change into some dry clothes, then we just sat there staring around with nothing to do.  Finally Yoi said we could join him in this little hut on stills that was next to the house we were going to sleep in.  This little hut acted as the family’s kitchen.  Kyle and I helped he prepare our dinner.  When there was nothing more for us to help with we went ourside and took some pictures of the kids and the village.  We ate dinner in the kitchen hut by candlelight since this village didn’t have electricity.  Yoi had made a cabbage soup, beef laap, the woman of the house made sticky rice for us.  Again it was all very good.  We felt bad monopolizing the kitchen while the family waited outside so they could have their dinner.  Yoi had made extra to share with the family.  After dinner we asked him where we could go to the bathroom, he had already told us that this village didn’t have a toilet!  In the daylight we can go into the wood a little ways to go to the bathroom, but at night we have to go together and we have to just go in the road.  I implied #2 and he said that I do that in the road too, and that the dogs will come by and eat it later, oh great!  And lets no mention that they sell their dogs and people eat them!  And the dogs are eating shit!

After dinner we just sat for a little bit, and then washed our faces and brushed our teeth using a bottle of drinking water that Yoi had brought, standing next to the little trail by the house.  Then we went to bed.  There really wasn’t much to do since there was no electricity, and no one other than Yoi spoke English.  We slept in the main house on the second level under a misquito net, luckily I had brough my duvee and pillow case because the bedding was very dirty.  I had to get up twice in the night to go to the bathroom.  Kyle came with me the first time but I just went by the house instead of by the road.  The second time I had to go he made me go by myself since I would be close to the house and it was getting light out.  It wasn’t so bad, and overall we slept pretty well.




hey you guys a couple of days and you will be back - I enjoy reading your jornals - sounds like u 2 are enjoying yourselves. take care and see you in a couple of weeks. have a save trip back

love you both

  sharon kinney Aug 2, 2008 2:05 AM

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