Water buffalo neighbor at first bungalow
We stayed in 3 places at Sae Lao- their classroom building (where they house most volunteers), a basic bungalow up the road, and the ‘blue lagoon’ bungalows. Each had its charms, and we were very happy to be able to swim at the blue lagoon for free as bungalow guests.
I think Sae Lao likes families and groups to stay at the blue lagoon, but the owners had a family illness so we couldn’t stay there right away. It was nice being offsite because the second week we were done at 7 and I could get the twins to sleep earlier (the classroom has classes until 8). Below:sunset and butterfly at beautiful Sae Lao
The first week we were all quite tired. We were dancing the hokey pokey, singing the alphabet, and leading “heads, shoulders, knees and toes”with the students. Fiercely did theater games, too. Then there was lesson planning and farm work and cooking/cleaning. Below: Mama pig had to be fed every day!
I loved their big compost pile and chose to turn it as a chore- I have a special place in my heart for compost piles ever since I worked briefly on a farm in my 20’s, and after living in the city so long I appreciate a large rural pile’o’compost!
Below: heading to Sae Lao in the morning, the chore board
Below: the glorious compost pile, Cleverly planning a lesson
The students were very sweet, modest young teenagers. They came on bicycles as the sun set each weekday evening. It was tremendous to see them biking on the dirt road to Sae Lao after their school day, cheerful, giggling, eager to learn. Below: younger kids with Cleverly, bikes parked on the road
Most were shy, but there were a few rowdy ones as well. Women and girls in the area wear hand-woven skirts, usually black with a stripe towards the bottom. They all had long hair. We did see western clothing, but never short hair on the girls and women. The boys and men wore western clothes or dark pants with button-down shirts and all had short hair.
Nearby, women wove beautiful cloth for sale. We bought some gorgeous silk skirts in the local style.
We also bought a sweet cake sold by this bakery-on-wheels. He had a loud recorded woman’s voice singing about the cakes. We could hear him far down the road.
We bought a bunch of cakes one day for a Halloween activity for the young kids group. Bobbing for apples was out because apples are quite expensive. No hands, cake-on-a-string went over well!
And there was the cave! We loved swimming at the blue lagoon to cool off many afternoons, and there was also a wonderful cave there. It was a short, steep climb to the entrance. Inside was a golden reclining Buddha, and many passageways to explore. You could rent a headlamp and spelunk to your heart’s content. The kids were like mountain goats running up the path and inside the cave.
Above: path to cave, below: inside the mountain!
One Buddha day, the kids went to the annual longboat races in Vang Vieng. I stayed home with Truly, who had a fever. This was a big event; school let out early and lots of people attended. Photos from Cleverly:
Truly was much better, but still had a mild fever after 5 days, so the staff recommended we take her to the local hospital. Sae Lao founder Senkeo kindly went with us to translate. I was amazed that we were seen immediately by a doctor at the ER, had blood work done, got results and then 3 prescriptions, and were out of there in under 25 minutes, prescriptions in hand, for less than $20! She did not have any concerning results, and in fact the fever was gone after that, but I was glad to have her checked out. Some shots of the Vang Vieng hospital. I felt shy about taking too many pictures, but you can see it is an open-air building, not crowded at all, and had some funky specimens in jars on the filing cabinet there:
Cleverly turned 12 at Sae Lao. We had a great time with our new friend L from the Czech Republic in town and climbing the mountain a second time. Below: in town at a cafe and climbing the mountain with L. Monks on bikes as we walked to the mountain path
Random notes and pics from Sae Lao:
More of our animal neighbors, cow with a bell and duck family:
We loved the sticky rice and it was kept in this nice basket:
“Woven walls and crooked cats” is the title for my book if I ever get it together! We saw many walls made in the traditional style of woven bamboo, such as behind the shovel in this photo.
And for some reason, many Lao cats have a kink or two in their tails. We thought it was an injury at first, but realized it must be genetic since we saw it so often.
Staff meal in the restaurant:
View from the restaurant:
Repurposed bomb near the bridge to Vang Vieng:
Snails and frogs harvested during rice harvest. We didn’t get to try these, I was curious how they would be prepared.
And that’s about it for Sae Lao. We were sad to say goodbye; it had been a wonderful time. Also, though, we had been away from Mr. Fantastic the whole time and we missed him. We headed to Vietienne, where we would meet him and go to Bangkok. Next stop, Thailand!