Second trek was a two day affair with just our family after Penina and Shalom had left. The weather had, unfortunately, turned cold so we spent most of our non-hiking hours huddled around a fire. Here's a picture of Noam "crossing" a river with our guide. The rest of us were a bit more independent.
The villages we stopped through were wonderful. Would have liked to have been able to communicate more with the locals, and I realized once again what a blessing it is that Yoni speaks Chinese as it opens up so many doors for us here in China. In
We got a bit frustrated with the concept of donations while we were traveling. Having traveled through countries where hordes of children can follow backpackers around asking for money and gifts, I was really pleasantly surprised that this never happened to us in
Anyway, the big event of the two day trek occurred about midnight when Tal suddenly threw up in bed. It was pretty cold and there was no water except what we had in our bottles. The village pump was far away and we had little hope of finding it successfully in the dark . . and the toilet, well, let’s just say there was a hole in the ground in a hut about 70 metres away. Kind of like vomiting in the middle of the night on a canoe trip. We were sleeping on these mattresses on an elevated wooden platform inside a hut, under mosquito nets, and Tal was right beside his brother. Miraculously, Tal was facing the correct direction and avoided throwing up directly on Noam - who luckily slept through the whole thing. I don’t know how Tal had the strength to hike six hours out the next day, but he did. I slowly got sick on the second day of the trek and by the time we returned to Luang Prabang was sick in our hotel room. My timing was better than Tal’s, but it’s still not fun being sick on vacation. My stomach wasn’t quite the same for the rest of the trip so I couldn’t even manage one last banana pancake before we left. I'm including a picture of the hut we slept in, as well as one of our lovely candlit dinner that night. Of course, this was before "the incident."
We had a variety of tour guides while in
I'm attaching some pictures of Vang Viang - there's one in a stalagmite/stalagtite cave with our wonderful guide Ping. I think that's the cave where hundreds of locals hid (incuding our guide's older brother and family) during "The Secret War", "The War Against the US Imperialist Forces," or any other name given to this very ugly time period. On a happier note, there's a photo of Penina and Shalom having breakfast at our idyllic guest house, "The Elephant Crossing", and a beautiful view of Vang Viang on our day of biking through the karst peaks.
The whole drunken tourist scene was a bit disturbing. Towards the end Tal asked, with a very serious expression, “so is that what I’m going to do when I’m 18?” A good time for a lecture on the dangers of drinking and swimming. It's hard to imagine that a country that has only been open to tourism since 1999 can have attracted such a scene, let alone built enough infrastructure to sustain it. Some of the local restaurants played non-stop episodes of “Friends” while serving tons of Yoni’s favourite drink – Beerlao (
A brief additional note from Yoni.
Another adventure we had that Linda failed to mention occurred when Linda and my parents were attending their Lao cooking class. Tal, Noam and I wandered down to a tributary of the
Alas, while Noam has been described as a monkey in the past, this time it was in fact a real monkey. The monkey, offended, bit Tal through his shirt, breaking the skin. And thus began the long tale of the Rabies vaccine….crossing borders with a vaccine in an ice bucket …traveling by airplane and train and . . .
Perhaps the most lovely thing about the country - everyone smiles all the time. The people arewarm, welcoming and kind. Nobody seemed to be in a rush and seemed to genuinely want you to enjoy yourself. This contrasted with high energy, fast paced, and intense China - where recently I laughed so loudly at something in a restaurant that I caused this poor young waitress to, quite literally, jump! But then, that is a whole other story.