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Experiences 04

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Hill tribes

One of the most interesting experiences I have in surrounding mountains of Pakbeng.I stop here during my voyage on Mekong River. First day I would like to climb some hill and take a look around. I see a man in white shirt hiking on a narrow path, suppose leading uphill. I catch him in a few minutes. Unfortunately he does not understand a single word in English. Anyway I can feel that is Ok to follow him. After a kilometer path is heading into the valley. Suddenly the path ends at a little gate and fence. The man opens the gate and shows me to go in. I follow him through 2/3 village into his house.

In a moment we are surrounded with a group of young kids. Adults smile but except the man wife nobody comes. Next 15 minutes I am trying to find out who they are, which tribe. Without any success. I am probably told his and her name. The man has only little shop, circa 20 items of food, biscuit,.., in whole village. I am buying some biscuit and give them to woman with gesture to give them to surrounding kids. It is time to move. Again I use gesture to ask if is ok to go further through the village. I am going to spend rest of the day there.

Almost always it is the same. When approaching a group of women they stop and get silent. After a half a minute of hesitation they start to walk and pass me without any word. When they are a few meters behind me some of them answer my greetings or waving. Only when they do not see me any more they start to talk again.

Another day I join a grope of women going to the fields. After a hour spent with a young girl she allowed me to take a video shot of her work.

A group of young men invites me to join them. I prefer to stay in their village and “talk” to some man. We are surrounded with kids again I try to use guide book Lonely planet and to talk. We have a good time. Suddenly a man asks me what is in my little back. I did not want to use my video camera, but when he asked about that I showed them their picture on the display and take a shot of them. The less than minute long shot is one of my most value one.

These villages were not ready for “farangs”. I could not see any stalls to trade neither begging kids. Just smiles faces around me.

Laos currency - Kip

Because of possibility of closing Thai-Lao border I had to leave Lao in a few hours. I was in the capital Vientiane with rather a lot Kips. This currency is totally worthless out of the Lao. So far I could use Kips, Thai Bath and US$ without any problems. But suddenly I could not change any Kips for Thai Baths. Nobody was interested in their own currency in the biggest market in the capital city. They were not even interested in a offering changing rate. At the end I had to buy another piece of silk. Then a seller was willing to change rest of my Kips for Bath. This was the only way.

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