I’m sitting in a hole-in-the-wall breakfast place with the best banana chocolate pancake I have ever tasted and an ice cold coffee drink, and, the best part of it all, the entire meal cost barely over a dollar. What a strange world it is where a minimum wage “poor” Western college student can have the ability to take out loans and work odd end jobs to afford a trip across the world. I can’t ever forget how fricken fortunate I am to be able to do such a thing. It continues to blow my mind.
Anyhow, I am enjoying this breakfast on a beautiful Valentines Day morning that just happens to be our first day off in a while. As much as I love all of the amazing activities we get to do, it is so so nice to be able to take a deep breath and reflect peacefully on the last three action-packed weeks.
Just yesterday night, we arrived back from a three day trek and kayaking trip through the Lao jungle. We split up into two smaller groups to create a closer group dynamic which was a great change of things, and our group started out with two solid days of trekking up and down the rolling Lao hills. The first hour was all uphill and I do not think I realized how difficult real backpacking can be. I’m not used to carrying so much wait on my back for so long. But as we rolled into the swing of things, you just kind of forget about the pain and become lost in the enchanting scenery, and comfortable conversation. We stopped for lunch near the top of the mountain and ate traditional Thai/Lao style with a banana leaf as our plates and our hands as our utensils. I quite enjoyed the simplicity and messiness; I almost feels like that is the way things are meant to be.
After a full day of beautiful trekking, we reached our destination towards nightfall. We were having a home stay in a tiny mountain village with no more than 150 people. They were Animists and believed in many spirits. Before dinner, we got to play with the kids for a while, showing them typical American games such as duck duck goose and tag, which they picked up on surprisingly fast. From there, we attempted a tricky river bath, where the women must be fully covered with a wrap-around sheet; let’s just say this makes it pretty difficult to get entirely clean after trekking all day. The night finished up with a brilliant candle- lit dinner with some of the best-tasting fresh tomato dish and greens that I have ever experienced. A snapshot moment for sure.
After dinner, we chatted over a quaint bonfire and gazed up at the dazzling stars until one-by-one we strolled into our one-roomed hut to crash for a well-deserved rest. I think we were all out by the crazy late-night hour of 8pm.
The following day we trekked again, and finished up with a raft trip down a breathtaking mountain-and jungle-lined river.
Tried to slow down a day for ya’all. Hope that helped. Until next time, Sao bi di! (Hello and goodbye in Lao.:))