Most people who visit Laos stay no less than three weeks so what could I possibly do in just 12 days in Laos? When you travel to Laos or anywhere for that matter by yourself you can actually do so much more than traveling with others No one to be conflicted on where to go, what to eat, and not to mention extra bathroom stops on road trips LoL! This isn’t my first time traveling alone to Laos so I’ve become quite fond of my quiet alone times. I’m able to think and write more when I don’t have the company of others to carry conversations with. I’m learning to truly appreciate those moments of silence and solitude more in my growing years.
There were a few things I needed to do on this trip. My sister just moved to Laos so I wanted to visit her and spend as much time as I could with her so it was so great to have her travel everywhere with me. I also needed to do a few things on behalf of the Jai Lao Foundation. It’s my blessing to be able to travel to Laos often to do my volunteer work for the children of Laos. It’s my life’s passion and mission to help and serve to the best of my physical and financial abilities. On this trip I’m here to be a part of a hand over of the school Jai Lao built for Baan Pa Toop in northern Laos and to access a village in Laos for the next school building project.
As soon as I arrive in Laos I need to always have tum mak houng (papaya salad) and some kind of soup to fight jet lag and a massage. At $10 an hour for an upscale massage it won’t break my bank too much, and tum mak houng is only less than $2. I always try to get as much shopping as I can out of the way before I head out to other provinces. I spend half a day to shop for silk sinhs and than take it to my usual seamstress to custom tailor a few outfits. The next day my sister Noi and I hop on an airplane to Luang Prabang which is just a 30 minutes quick flight.
At Baan Pa Toop we are greeted by the whole village of children and parents alike who eagerly awaited our arrival. The first time I ever came to visit this village the children were very shy, almost scared of our presence, but after some sweets bribery they have warmed up to us, and the fact that we are responsible for building them a pretty awesome school to attend now. I love their eagerness to help us unload our truck and their excitement to see what kind of lunch we are preparing for them. After a good 4 hours ride in bumpy road conditions, I was quite tired, but my enthusiasm to make tum mak houng for them erased any fatigue I was feeling. I felt complete bliss and joy just to see the way they enjoyed their simple lunch of tum mak houng, khao poon noodles, BBQ pork, and khao niow (sticky rice). I could seriously see myself doing this everyday.
After lunch, the village chief, his counselors, the officials from the District of Education, and us had the official Baci handover ceremony where strings were tired around our wrists for blessings. Then school let out, and we got to pass out donations of educational materials and learning supplies and candies to the students. Some things that simple and yet they received them with the most gracious gesture of gratitude. There are so much I learn from the villagers each time I visit them. Simplicity seems to be the key to their happiness, and it’s something I am striving to attain in order to find their kind of joy.