Friday, September 17, 2010

So long Luang Prabang (for now)

What will I miss about Luang Prabang?
I’ve started saying goodbye to the many amazing people from Laos and all the people I grew to make friends here. Saying goodbye to the students is particularly hard.
Laos people generally are quiet shy and it takes time to build a relationship with the students, the Laos teachers and colleagues, the family of the guesthouse where I lived whilst here, the local communities I have food with and buy supplies from and the novice Monks I have been so lucky to meet and share many stories with.
I slipped into a routine quiet quickly here in hindsight I’m so very thankful to each of the people in my daily life with whom I interact with each day of the week. Like Moud, the lady I buy my juice from who stands of the cross roads across from the post office every single day from 7am to 10pm. Moud stands there with her young daughter with a blender and sells juiced fruit to foreigners for 80 cents a cup. She has no English but a smile tells a whole story.
The children who have been students in my class who cycle by me as I walk to and from different schools during each day. As they cycle by, they always shout a big hello and wave with such beautiful excitement and enormous smiles.
You know when you are accepted here when several houses and small shop owners I have become friends with shout as I walk by “A Steve, eat, eat some food with us”, sometimes I’m unable to and sometimes I can, depends on my teaching schedule. Volunteer obligations come first whenever possible.
I will miss the novice Monks here. Luang Prabang is famous for the daily rituals of the novices. All during the day the novices carrying their umbrella’s to protect themselves from the harsh sun walking to and from the Monk school where they receive a full education.
I will deeply miss the evenings here. A break from the sun as the evening approaches is one of my favourite times of the day because everyone is out, families sitting on the side of the road making dinner. The famous night markets transform the whole town centre into hundreds of stalls. Villagers bring in crafts, hand woven clothes, beautiful artwork and artefacts. They lay them on the ground side by side. As I walk through the markets under the canopies that have calming lights that look like lanterns. Foreigners can be heard bartering with locals. The sounds are gentle, the people are always smiling and the general atmosphere is very laid back.
This experience reminds me what we miss when travelling through countries. Many people come and go through Luang Prabang / Laos without really understanding the culture here, that can’t be helped. I feel so very lucky to have experienced a small part of that and has opened my eyes. This has been deep learning curve for me for which I very thankful for. Thank you GVI for this opportunity and I will be taking another role with this amazing organisation next year, this I am certain......
I leave on a 2 day boat trip North along the Mekong this week to “The gibbon experience”. A bizarre experience in the mountains, that documentaries has been made about. Google it, and see what has been created, it looks amazing.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan