Last night was very cold but our hosts gave us extra blankets. We had been given the choice of a king or twins. Rob wanted twins because he sleeps with a covers stealer. I thought the king would be best so that we could serve as heaters for each other. Twins won out!!!
We are preparing for a overnight on the river so I KNOW that I will need warmer clothes this morning. A hoodie or perhaps a sweater and some gloves? So much for following the sun. As I was looking for warm clothes, this little black kitten had the same idea trying to get warm. Do you see it?
We started our drive up and down each mountain with lots of curves. Apparently, they don’t have any tunnels. It was decided early on that I should be in the front seat. I certainly have the best view. The mountains are in front of mountains that are in front of mountains, etc.
Laos is the country. Lao or Laotian refers to the people. Dao is a lowland word from long ago that eventually became Lao.
Lao language originated from Sanskrit and Bali but looks nothing like it today.
Nam Nern Night Safari
We arrive at Son Koua Village along the Nam Nuon River. We are given a tour of the town by one of its residents, Alporn. Here are some of the traditional homes.
Highlanders have their animals fend for themselves and eat along the roads. It is such fun to see the chickens scurrying across the roads. The chickens here have very long legs. Cats in Southeast Asia often do not have long tails or tails at all.
This village is made up of animists. These people worship the spirits of nature and ancestors. They often have spirit houses in front of their houses. It has been compared to the beliefs of the Native Americans.
Below is the village spirit that is situated near the community meeting house. Once the farming has ended in June, they offer rice wine and two chickens to protect homes, people, and the village.
This stone was moved once since another location was thought to be better as children were playing on it. They moved it back to this original spot and the date of move is on it.
As we walk through the village, we see women busy cooking, weaving cloth and making thatched roofs.
After our village tour we board our boat. We are joined by Richard from Manchester, England. He is cycling through Laos. Richard is seated in the front of the other boat followed by Saylom and then a guide.
There is a boatman in the back running the motor and steering and a boatman in front fine tuning our direction by steering us clear of the many rocks. (Twice we had to get out of the boat while the men pulled the boat across rocks in the low river.)
We got in the boats (I kind of plopped in amid much laughter), donned our life jackets, and got last minute instructions: keep your hands inside the boat and look for these animals along the way. I was handed this laminated sheet.
What? Rob didn’t tell me about tigers!!!
We stop at our camp to unload our gear and have lunch. We will be sleeping in bamboo huts. The beds are covered by mosquito nets. You can see that the walls are not going to keep out the cold.
Below every hut are scads of wolf spider nests.
Our lunch was served in the dining hut and this was our tablecloth. Beautiful and biodegradable!
After walking around an abandoned village and learning about native plants, we got back on our boats and headed further into the forest to the ranger station. This campsite exists to protect the wildlife and uncover illegal activities.
The rangers and boatman prepare a campfire meal for us. This man is washing the produce in the freshwater of the river.
This man is cooking over the fire.
This man cracked me up as he was wearing a sport jacket accessorized with a machete.
After getting to know each other around the campfire and learning about their work, it was time to head back down the rapids IN THE DARK to look for wild animals.
There was the last call to potty, and I was the only girl and needed to go. I started down to one side with my flashlight to get out of the view of the men. I didn’t want to go too far as there are wild animals. I was grumbling about the unfairness of being a woman and wishing to have a real girl’s potty and this is what I saw.
Could it be a mirage? I assumed that it was a screen from prying eyes but when I rounded the privacy screen, there was a bright shiny white potty throne. Say what???
I happily used it and shouted for Rob to come see what I had found!!
There were instructions for our night Safari. The front boatman was the spotter with his flashlight. When he sees something, he will bounce the boat by jumping up and down. He will wiggle the flashlight at the location of the animal, and we are to turn on our lights and shine them on the animal. Poor thing, but I understand the procedure!
I was asked if I wanted to wear a helmet. YES! If I fell out of the boat, I didn’t want to hit my head on the rocks. Rob tried one on, but it was too small and he looked like Stan Laurel.
Away we go! The boat ride was smooth at first and then got a little bumpy, but I was having fun until the front boatman shined his light in my face. I looked away but when I turned back, he was still blinding me. I wish he would stop, and I put up my hand. He tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the shore.
Oh no. I forgot the drill. I fumbled around with my flashlight just in time to see a sampan deer.
The most action that we saw was a fishing eagle attack a heron that was flying along the river ahead of us. It was sad to see!
Here is our group that bonded through wild rapids and dark cold nights. We wish them much success.
The Rangers’ goal is for wild animals to live a long life.
One thing that they are trying to do is increase the number of prey in the forest. I asked what are they doing to make that happen?
“We are bringing more tourists to the area.” Hmmm. Does that mean that I am the prey?? HA! We all had a big laugh!