December 25: More of The Festival
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On our way to the Plain of Jars, we stopped at another village where they were playing the "catch the ball" game... or the "catch the ball dating game." Here, these girls are chit-chatting with their prospective gentlemen-callers. Is marriage on the line? Their umbrellas would give Rihanna something to sing about...
These two girls are heavily in discussion.
"I'm not sure if I really like him."
"Are you serious? I saw him riding his water buffalo yesterday... and he looked soooo cute!"
"But how big is his rice field? Dad won't throw in another goat just because he's cute!"
Then we went to the Plain of Jars. Yelp, that's what they are... a plain of jars. Over 2000 years old, nobody knows who made them or why they were made. They may have been used for burial. After cremation, the ashes were put into the jars.
Ooops. "Tauru, what are you doing?"
"What about you, Christi? What are you doing?"
Here's the Plain of Jars.
Not sure what Christi's doing in there.
Ta, ta... another fine day. The Lao people say these were jars used for making lao-lao, a rice whisky drink. Hmmm... I like this story better.
Back at our guest house in Phonsavan, we found a Viet Cong army helmet. So this is what a "charlie" would have looked like in the jungles of Nam.
The following day we took a bus to Xam Neua. We were told it was 7 hrs.. 8 hrs... well, maybe 10 hrs. Yikes. It turned out to be 11.5 hrs! First, as we were rounding a blind corner, some guy in a newer pickup truck was going way too fast and so ended up bumping into us. But luckily no damage to our bus. He tore the front bumper of his truck. Second... the bus loses its muffler. Broke off! In the photo, the driver is trying to fix it as Christi (in red shirt) watches on.
We met three Dutch people on the bus. Here's Jaap (I think that's his name). Good guy. You can see Beps, the only other blonde hair you see to the left of Christi. MJ is in the bus chilling.
And the adventure continues... Third, we stop because the bus ahead has broken down and is now blocking the road. Everyone is walking towards it to check it out. There's Christi peaking out of the window. Yeah, um... no... it's going to be 11.5 hrs for the 300 kilometers. Wait... isn't that... um... only 180 miles?!! If I do the math... that's 15.6 mph!!!
We see the bus... and it's got bamboo tied to it? Someone went up into the jungle to cut down some bamboo and tied it to the broken down bus. Are you serious? Jaap, our new Dutch friend, pokes fun and pretends it's used for pulling. Hahaha... really funny, Jaap.
Holy! It is being used "as a chain." Here's Tauru chipping in to help, and Jaap is the blond head just in front of the bus pulling, too.
And the final pull. Jaap inspects the bamboo connection. Tauru is to the right yelling words of encouragement. The lady in the skirt is paving roads for feminism in Laos and the world. Go, girl!
We arrived in Xam Neua safely at night and managed to laugh it all off. Two days later, Christi and I went to Vieng Xai (1hr east of Xam Neua) to visit the caves used by the Pathet Lao (communist party fighting against the Americans) during the war. Here's a photo of an old soldier walking the streets.
SIDE NOTE: PATHET LAO CAVES IN VIENG XAI
During the war from mid-60's to mid-70's, the communist Pathet Lao people fought against American influence. The world was different then with the great fear of communism, whether by propaganda or reality, and so the Americans were bombing this northern part of Laos. Vieng Xai, with its limestone caves, had perfect natural protection against American bombings. We took a tour to visit the caves and saw and learned how they lived during this period. They said that the bombs were dropped all day long during the day. They were only able to work the fields at night to grow enough food to feed themselves. They had help from other communist countries like Russia, China, East Germany, and Vietnam. In one cave, some 2000 people lived there for 9 years! It's amazing.
In the ideal world, we wouldn't have differences ...like politics and religion. But...
On the way to the caves, Tauru spots the "fashion center." A clothing vendor. Tauru's been meaning to get a change of clothes and some pants. But we've got the caves to go to...
Here's a cave for the officials. Our tour guide (in front of Christi) tells us about this table that was used by the highest politburo's for their high level meetings. The photos on the table are those of high ranking officials who were at the table. They all went on to high positions in Laos' government.
Beds for the high ranking officials.
Going to the next caves. Pictured is our guide walking us there. Circled is where the big cave that housed 2000 people during the 9 years of bombing.
Christi walking into the big cave.
This big room was used for entertainment. Like an auditorium.
Here's where soldiers slept.
Another room as Tauru checks things out. After the tour, we were deep in thought. People living this way... bombings everyday all day long. Why? Why? Why?
It was better to deal with more easy issues. Like Tauru needing a pair of pants. So we returned to the "fashion center." It was sunny by now and so Tauru could see well his fashion choice. A pair of designer slacks?
A designer shirt?
"Oooo, a pair of pants. Hmmm..."
"Awesome, they fit!" Tauru tries them on in the "dressing room" (behind the truck).
Winter 2008 collection. Pants: from Vieng Xai's "fashion center," $2. Shirt: not sure where he got it. Hairstyle: chic.
We spent two long and jarring days travelling across the country to a small village of Muang Xing where we celebrated with a Christmas Eve feast.
Ahh, a fine bottle of Chinese wine. Do I taste a hint of soy sauce?
C'est magnifique! Our first course. A "Lao" salad, that was so good we've eaten four of them since being in this town.... oops!
Christmas Eve in Laos - 2 plates of rice, 2 plates of veggies, 1 small bit of pork, our salad, and of course, il vino Chinese-oh! Cheers!
25: Not Much
21: Vacation in Thailand
21: Back in The Sierras
16: Rock Climbing in J-Tree
29: Onward to Mt. Shasta
10: Onward to Mt. Rainier
21: Touristing Seattle
30: Through The Al-Can
26: Christi on Denali
Back in AZ, No Update
Back in AZ, No Update
17: Across The Country
17: Rock Climbing in CA
End: Before The Traveling
10: Starting Travels in Thailand
19: More of Thailand
26: In Northern Thailand
11: Traveling in Laos
13: Touristing Vientiane, Laos
25: Touristing Northern Laos
25: More of The Festival