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Wednesday, December 4: Day 226 – What Luck!

We leave our rustic Riverside cabin in Nong Khiaw to travel further north to Muang Hiam. Saylom has planned some interesting stops along the way.

The Pha Thok caves housed many Lao during the war. There are many caves and waterfalls in Laos. When the country was under constant bombing, the locals would be in their caves during the day and venture out at night to farm and gather food.

Everyone knows the locations of the nearest cave. Many are hidden to the casual observer.

This area was 100% bombed during the war from 1963-1972. We walked out on bamboo walkways so we didn’t step on any unexploded bombs.

These large bombs were filled with up to 650 bomblets that had to have 2,000 revolutions in order to open and detonate. Many of these bombs were released too low so they remain as dangerous today as back then.

It is hard to take pictures of caves. This one held thousands of people and was the location of police units, communications, ammunition stockpile, etc.

This was the staircase that we used to gain access but, of course, it wasn’t there 50 years ago.

When Saylom needs to find a bathroom and there are none, he says, “I need to shoot the rapids.” He said that a woman says that she needs to pick a flower!!

We had lunch in a village where there was a market fair. This is like a traveling Walmart that comes several times a year from China bringing winter coats, clothing, blankets and other hard-to-buy items.

There is always a food market, and this product looked like something that I would like to try.

The inside of the raw egg is removed with a syringe and mixed with spices and onions and then returned back into the shell. Then it is steamed until hard boiled. It is a cross between a deviled egg and a twice-baked potato.

Middle-land people live in the valleys. Here they can farm on fertile land where the water has receded. This land can be claimed by the first person who works the land as it isn’t owned by anyone.

We went to a hot spring. The water was 212°F. A woman was boiling eggs. So smart!

Here is a highland mother doing laundry and bathing her baby. This is how they carry their babies. Maybe I will try that with the new granddaughter?

We felt a little awkward looking at people bathing.

The houses of the highland people are mostly made of wood and have dirt floors. The highland people have the least education of the Lao people. Mostly this is because they have less access to schools.

Here is a school in which the children come from all around the area.

We visited a math class of 4th and 5th grade students. They were reducing fractions. We asked these darling children and their teacher lots of questions.

I asked if they had any questions for us. One 10-year-old asked how old I was. I said 62.

“Wow. And you still are beautiful.” was the translation from Saylom. How sweet!

We arrived at our guest house in Muang Hiam. The weather has become VERY cold. It feels much like Colorado – cold nights, brisk mornings and hot afternoons. We don’t have a heater, but we do have hot water.

But the shower is just a spigot in the middle of the long bathroom with a drain on the far side…so I had to take my socks off to prevent them from getting wet when I used the toilet. But then I had to make sure that my pajama bottoms didn’t hit the floor either…and then put my toilet paper trash in the bin across the room.

We needed to let our restaurant know what time were we coming to dinner because they wanted to go to bed. (They get up at 4am and are in bed between 8 and 10. Sunrise comes later and sunset comes earlier when in the mountains.) We said 6:30. OK. We will see you at 6.

We saw a tournament of Pétanque. It was brought here by the French and apparently involves drinking.

During dinner something unusual happened to me. I bit down on a banana seed. Saylom told me that it was lucky. However, nothing grows from a banana seed. That doesn’t seem too lucky to me?

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