Thursday, July 26, 2012

First night travelling in Laos

March, 2012. A flight, an official meeting, a dusty bumpy 4WD drive, a guesthouse with a bare concrete floor and cold bucket shower...

We walk through a mostly pitch-dark town to the only restaurant. It's 7pm and they are out of food. After negotiation, they serve us sticky rice, egg, salad leaves and a wad of mekong algae.

Afterwards, wandering back, we hear rhythmic twanging & see lights up ahead - a group of a dozen women on their haunches in the fluorescent light, a cloud of carded cotton in the middle of their tarp. They each hold a bow held sideways that they put into a pile of cotton, then hit it with a piece of wood, the vibration loosening up the fibres and sending them floating around in the air.

There is a loom off to the side, and when we express a bit of interest one of the wrinkled older ladies with a towel wrapped around her head beetles off & brings back her weaving - carded, spun, dyed and woven by hand. She names her price, and I feel like I should bargain - upwards. I buy a 2m length for $3.60, and she kneels & presses the money to her forehead as she thanks me.

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