Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Landslide

"Make an obstacle an opportunity, make a negative a positive.” 

From Nong Khiaw we travelled by slow boat back to Luang Prabang, spending the night eating authentic food in the night market and relaxing before our journey to the party capital Vang Vieng. The food here is good, the rustic cuisine consists of fresh herbs and spices, sticky rice, grilled meats and fresh Mekong river fish. Noodle soup is the favorite breakfast dish and its best to have it with plenty of chili. However, whist this is the staple diet for Lao people, most eat absoulty anything that moves, including; crickets severed on a stick, beetles, cattle intestine, brains and even rat and dog. I was offered some rat by one of the locals who was BBQ a couple, I thought about it and after looking it in the eye thought, better not. 

The journey from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng should take about three hours, but during the monsoon season it can take a lot longer due to landslides. The roads are not the best here in the north but the views are breathtaking high up on the mountains. Surely enough we got caught in a land slide, a very big land slide that was to take all day to clear. The traffic on the road was horrendous with traffic jams over a mile long on each side. You had two options, one you stay in the bus all day or go have a walk with our guide Munnour and visit some local villages. I opted for the latter and a bad day was to turn into one of the most inspirational days I have had so far. We scrambled up to the top of the hill and walked for a while until we arrived at a small remote village. The people were happy to see us, inquisitive and curious at our arrival. In the village all type of animals roam around, such as chickens, pigs, dogs and cats as life goes on around. There are no materialist goods, they are poor but the people are happy and it is showed by the smiles on their faces. 

View of the traffic form the mountain
After finding out our bus would be stuck there for about eight hours, we decided to go for a little adventure and with our guide. We went for a trek over the mountains with the plan off meeting the bus on the other side of the landslide. After about one hour we came to a small primary school which had three small classrooms and a small play area at the front. I was with another guy called josh who was about 6ft 3in and I am about 6ft and remember we are considerably bigger than the average village man. Furthermore these children rarely see white westerners. So, it was funny to see there faces when two big white guys walked into their school, it was a mixture of fear and curiosity. Me and Josh sat down, and after about a minute I looked up to see about fifty pupils all between age 3-11 standing about five meters away all staring tentatively and emotionless at us both as if we were both aliens from Mars. I got up and walked slowly towards them as they all took a step back still looking at us. I walked another step, and they all took another step back still looking us, curious. Then I slowly lifted my arms up, looked them all in the eye and  playfully and chased all of them into the playground. From that moment on their confidence grew and they became more comfortable with us and all they wanted to do was play.

School Playground
I noticed that the youngest class never had a teacher, so I thought I would have a little go. However by now all the children wanted to do was play. Some of the games I was playing with them on the playground invovled them repeating what I would say. In the classroom It took me 15 minutes to explain to them how to sit down, In which they would respond by simply standing up and repeating the words; 'sit down' then laugh. I taught them how to count to 10 and they taught me how to count to 10 in Laos. I wrote on the baored 'My name is.....?' I gave them an example; 'My name is John', they all repeated in broken English. Once they had got it I then tried to explain that you replace your name with John. I gave them many examples for over twenty minutes and I thought I had cracked it. Untill at the end of the lesson, when I had over twenty children all coming up to me tugging on my shirt and saying: 'My name is John', 'My name is John' 'My name is John' making me feel as though I was the lead in a Spartacus film. So in a remote part of the world, high up on a mountain, in a small school I have a class full of John's who all say it in a twang of broken Scouse.

A very basic classroom

My name is John!!! No my name is John!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment