Southeast Asia with Peter – Day 5
Started Day 5 at the Grand Hotel.Carol from Hawaii, Debby from Oregon, Joyce Spence also from Oregon, and(standing) Susan Norris also from Oregon enjoyed a nice breakfast on the verand overlookin the Mekong rive and the mountains in the distance. Debbie, Joyce, and Susan were traveling together.
After breakfast we traveled to the Ban Xangkhrong Paper and Silk village. This was another of OAT’s educational and buying experiences. It was much more educational (to me) than the Gem Factory in Bangkok.
Here is a typical spirit house with offering placed fresh daily. House spirits, as the name infers, are the spirits that inhabit and surround a house or building. An important way to ensure that house spirits are respected is to keep and maintain a spirit house. These are effectively little shelters where the spirits can have their own space so that they don’t cause problems and are encouraged to protect your home.
The above series of pictures show how Mulberry bark (silk worm are fed the leaves) is boiled shredded, and mashed into a pulp prior to being made into a slurry that can be picked up on a screen. Flowers and leaves can be embedded into the wet paper pulp which is then air dried and becomes a tough paper.
I bought this small (5″ X 7″) example of the paper painted with a monk in the rain (or sun). Note the leaf embedded in the paper.
At another part of the shop there was the boiling and dying of silk yarn which was then woven into colorful and cleverly designed cloth. This and many other handicrafts are for sale in the retail store. That’s Joyce making a purchase.Ole waited for us outside and demonstrated another of his artistic skills. Note his neck scarf. It is a typical piece of accessory clothing in Laos and Cambodia.
After the Paper and Silk shop we boarded a boat for a cruise on the Mekong river. Dao outlined the course of the river from the Tibetan plateau to delta on the East China sea (aka The East Sea). The Mekong is the world’s 12th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 2,703 miles and it drains an area of 307,000 square miles, discharging 110 cubic miles of water annually. I had a nice seat along the side and enjoyed the scenery along the river. Ole enjoyed sketching a old fat guy who vaguely resembled me,
Here are typical views along the river in Laos. The Mekong floods each year and the farmers will follow the receding water down the banks planting as the water level drops. The muddy silt provides a natural fertilizer. The farmers are too poor to use chemicals and consequently, the river, although muddy, is relatively free of pollutants.
We pulled in to Ban Sanghai (Whisky Village). Dao demonstrated the still that converts rice wine to rice whisky. I took a taste, it was potent stuff: 100 proof. I bought a small bottle (minus the snakes, scorpions and cockroaches). I’ve got it at home, but I’m reluctant to open it in case it self ignites!
Above Whisky Village is a monastery. These pictures show a few scenes of the grounds. Note the 3 headed Nagas and the temple monkey statue. We’ll see more of these critters later. Pete is taking a picture with his camera that was stolen in Saigon later in the trip. An unabridged version of these pictures are his only trip photos.
Our next stop was at The Buddha cave, remotely located near the confluence of the Pak Ou and Mekong rivers in north central Laos, it contains a Buddha temple. Over the centuries, this temple has collected thousands of donated and discarded Buddha relics. It is said this is the cave “where old Buddhas go to die.”
On the way back down the Mekong to Luang Prabang we enjoyed a nice lunch prepared by the boat captain’s family. They live on the boat and can cook right there on the boat. I wonder where the fish dish came from? Hmmmm… Note the big bottle of beer on the right. That was standard size.
When we arrived back at the Grand Hotel, some folks rented bikes and took a ride around the area. Pete took a ride, I took a nap. That night we all went to the “Spirit Indochina” restaurant for a nice outdoor dinner.
Indochina was a term that referred to the French colonial federation: now comprising the three independent states of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The area was held by the French from 1887 to 1941 when it was handed over to the invading Japanese in WWII. When the war ended, France expected the other Allied Powers to return its Indochinese colonies to its control. The people of Indochina, however, had different ideas, and this difference of opinion led to the Vietnam War and the creation of three independent nations in Southeast Asia.
So ended Day 5.