This morning we were up and checked out early. Annoyingly early, 5:10am early, too early. Oh well, we were organised at least. We were going to make offerings to the local monks on the side of the street and receive a blessing in the temple. Well, not all of us, Thuy and Katja both opted out. We had to pay $5 for the honour, to purchase something to offer to the monks. I had no issue in principal with this, except that I was given some coffee, Nescafé not even local stuff, and some people were given a pack of fake oreos. I mean come on, that has to be a) offensive b) not worth $5.
We reached the temple street and lined up on the side of the road just as some of the monks appeared and started to walk on the other side (much to our confusion, were we on the right side?) We watched them receive offerings from the locals, rice, fruit etc, even witnessed their giving side when they donated it to a homeless woman. We watched another set of monks receive in a similar fashion from around the corner, before entering the temple ourselves. We received a blessing, and donated our (offensive in my opinion) gifts, and left. Lek took photos, during the blessing, which I felt was a tad disrespectful, but I guess I don’t fully understand the religion, it’s not my place to comment.
When we returned, we picked our stuff up and headed straight to the slow boat. It was a little bigger, and much thinner, than I was expecting, with what looked like bus seats ripped out and placed ‘inside’. There was no windows, just a roof. The breeze was so welcome, we were given blankets it got that cold. The Mekong is beautiful this time of year, very green. That probably sounds stupid, but colours just seem to pop more out here.
Despite the long journey, boredom just didn’t set in, and the boat ride, all 10 hours of it, sailed (haha, well I found it funny) by in a flash. When we arrived at the homestay, just before sunset, I was both ready to get off, and shocked that we had been going for so long.
The homestay was much more basic than the other places we have been. I loved it, it felt so much more authentic than most of the other stuff we have done. The lack of internet and electricity on the boat and here is probably a shock to some of the group, but I am enjoying it so far. The three tribes there, Laos, Hmong, and Khmu, don’t speak the same language. Considering that there is only 400 of them combined, this seems strange to me, but it highlights the different cultures so well.
The toilets are strange by candle/torchlight, this is real squatting. Ish. I am sorry for not going with you in the middle of the night Jade – I genuinely was not awake enough to actually think, otherwise I would have, of course, gone with you. The food was great, on the other hand, as all the homestay food has been, I think Laotian food might be my favourite. Let’s be honest, I just love Laos, end of.
Going to bed in a strangers house was strange. We met some of the locals, played with their children, (Pete broke their rope) and saw their way of life, but to rock up in someone’s living room and sleep on their floor with no introduction didn’t seem right. I wish I could have thanked them in a better way.
All the same, it was amazing. Early start again though.