25.12.2016 - 25.12.2016 35 °C
Sunday, December 25
It sure doesn't feel like Christmas!! Our day started with breakfast at a restaurant overlooking the Mekong River: rice soup with fish, pineapple pancake and a fruit plate. We have acquired quite a taste for rice soup in the morning - with either rice noodles or ground rice and some chunks of meat or fish and seasonings. We took it easy for the morning, enjoying this little piece of paradise.
After a short bus ride, we boarded a ferry to Don Daeng island. Upon arrival at our destination, we trekked across the beach and into the village where we were greeted by the children who presented the women with flowers.
We were assigned to 2 homes for a home stay experience. The 6 women in our group stayed at one home and the 6 men stayed at the chief's house. While the others strolled around the island and enjoyed frolicking in the sunset, I stayed behind to ‘help’ with the cooking – a free Lao cooking lesson! The women had me stir the pot a few times and grind the lemongrass with a mortar and pestle.
While we were waiting for the dishes to cook, one of the women taught me some Lao words: how to count to 10 (sounded like: nung, song, sam, see, ha, ock, tet, payet, cao, seep) and words for some foods. The women prepared the eating area on bamboo mats on the floor.
We partied at the village chief’s house, with the younger ones passing around rice wine, till about 10 (long after all the other island residents had gone to bed!)
Our mattresses were laid out on the floor in the front room of the home (the family's living room) and we shared the bathroom facilities with the family. At the women's home stay, we had to use a squat toilet and were supposed to sponge bath, but the guys had a regular toilet and shower so we women all snuck in and showered there! There were no screens on the windows in either home, but we had a comfortable mosquito net to keep us safe!
Actually, we have encountered very few mosquitos. It's dry season and we have only had a few sprinkles of rain during our whole trip. I've used the umbrella more to keep the sun off than for any rain.