Hill Tribe Woman and Child

Locals Wait for Boat 


On the way up the Mekong River our boat stopped at Bon Hat Teu, a small village.  There was only one guest house and we had to pay twice the going rate for food and accommodation.  I looked at it as a donation.  I bathed in the muddy Mekong with the locals, in my sarong :~)  Then wandered through the small village.  There was no electricity, so families were eating by candlelight.  Even in the dark the young children spotted me and called out, "falaang, falaang" (fa-long...  i.e., foreigner).

One of the hill tribe families boarded our boat.  The man had a black outfit which was karate style.  He had sideburns and looked like he was right out of a kung fu movie.  His wife was wearing black with a pink and blue lapel.

The second day on the river we stopped for lunch.  I asked the French people what they were eating and they said, "Who knows squirrel, cat, or chicken and noodles."  I worked my way to the stove to look for some veggies and saw a dead squirrel in a colander.  I asked if they were kidding about the squirrel and they said, "No, it t'was on the z'table earlier."  Crazy kids!

In the market I saw a monkey and several frogs.  Roast crickets on a stick seemed to be popular.

I made it to Muang Xai, up north.  The first night we saw people in the street, carrying offerings, and decided to follow them.  Walking down the street I noticed the full moon and wondered if this was the occasion.  As I climbed the stairs to Phu That on the hill, I passed several people coming down with candles, incense, and bowls of flowers.  When we reached the large gold Buddhist stupa we stayed in the background so we would not interfere with the ceremony.

One man walked up to us and invited us to come forward and make a wish.  He explained that this full moon celebration is the start of a special period for the next three months.  He made a donation for us and had each of us select a stick from a can.  He read the number on the stick to the monk and was handed the corresponding fortune.  He said the fortune is either good or bad, and mine is good :~)  After he finished the translation, I turned to see a young girl holding flowers up to me with her hands in the prayer position.  I reached down to take them from her and she indicated to follow her and make the offering at the stupa.

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