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Previews from the book "Southeast Asia on 2 Wheels."

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135 full-color pages of photos, stories, anecdotes, illustrations, journal pages maps and more!In addition to the four major sections on Yunnan, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand I have included some back story on both my first (and unsuccessful) attempt to motorcycle through China as well as how the planning for the trip came together.I have chosen the very best of the more than 4,000 photos from the trip as well as the most humorous, moving and fascinating of the several hundred anecdotes for Southeast Asia on 2 Wheels.

Monday, 6 October 2008

School's In!

(Luang) Nam Tha, Northern Laos


a student looks into a classroom at the village school


I made my way to the south end of town today where I found the local "village secondary school." I wanted to volunteer to teach English and this seemed like the right place to try it. I was only on campus for about 10 minutes before I got what I was looking for!



students welcome their teacher as he enters the room

The school was a combination of simple concrete buildings with open windows and wooden 'crate' buildings - homemade affairs with untreated wood plank making up the floors, walls and everything else. The school was obviously poverty stricken - however this did not seem to affect the students' morale. Every student dressed in white shirts with black slacks for boys or black skirts for the girls. They all stood and saluted the teacher when he entered or left the room and they listened carefully and wrote lots of notes.

I met a Math and English teacher named "Ben" (he has a rather long Laoatian name.) He invited me to be a guest teacher for his class. I had lots of fun making them repeat things and role-play in front of their peers. They may be from a totally different culture, but being an embarassed and self-conscious teenager seems to be universal. Before long, students from nearby classrooms were lining up at the windows to watch.




Ben stands just outside a local village


After class, Ben took me to a string of villages in the area. When I say village, I mean village! Thatch-roof buildings, no electricity, no running water. Chickens and hogs ran about. Children played completely naked in the roads. To get there, the bike and I had to cross an Indiana Jones-style rope bridge! We entered the house of some Kmong (spelling?) people.

Ben saved the best for last. After waiting out a brief rain, he took me to a farther village where the staff of the school were having a party to celebrate "October 7th" - which evidently is a holiday for Laos. Every adult in the room insisted on shaking my hand and pouring a shot of "Lao-Lao" (local whiskey) for me. Then I was made to dance with the locals - which was a lot of fun. Finally I was sat in front of the village chief! (Yeah, I didn't know there really were such people either.) He seemed pleased that a foreigner had joined the party. The high school students, who were also attending, were a blend of curious and mortified by my presence. ha!


village chief (center) enjoys the party

In all of this, I couldn't help but be deeply impressed by the Laos people. Few people have suffered as much at the hands of America as Laos - yet never have I received such a heartfelt welcome.

1 comment:

chi-jin said...

Dude, you are the most awesome traveler ever! If it weren't for the motorcycle thing (which I don't know if I could handle) I would LOVE to travel with you sometime.

This blog is GREAT GREAT GREAT. Love the helmet cam. Love the school story.

Take care and keep the posts coming!
Love,
Christa (and Brendan)