travel bite: Tad Lo, Laos (Pt 2)

YOU know that you’re at a good point in life when your biggest conundrum is whether or not it’s acceptable to pick-up-a-pig. Well, piglet to be specific – the sow would provide too much physical exertion for one day…

It’s whilst sitting at Mama’s observing preparations for the New Year Pii Mai Laos celebrations that the group of piglets are scurrying about. Amongst the hive of activity other travellers and I are pondering whether catching and petting the tiniest pig would cause trouble with either a) the mother or b) the owner.

Never quite reaching a resolution, we distract ourselves from the day’s dilemma with what is going on around us. Pii Mai Laos starts the following day. Temporary structures are being erected along the one main road – metal frames topped with thatched grass panels. The sound of sweeping comes at us from all directions.

On either side of the waterfall large sound systems and accompanying stages are being constructed.

A tractor rumbles past, its trailer stacked high with red and blue plastic chairs.

Once all is set the crowds arrive. Over four days thousands of local visitors descend on what is usually a sleepy village. Music blares from dawn to dusk and stall after stall lead up to the waterfall’s edge, serving copious amounts of snacks and sweets.

But most important are the toy stands – selling water guns in all manner of shapes and sizes. This is what characterises the celebrations: the dousing of others with water. And Tad Lo’s location on the banks of waterfalls big and small makes for the perfect place to embrace this.

random snack of boiled egg filled with dried fish and chives

Fully clothed, children through to young adults scale the slippery rocks, playing in water pools and jumping from tops of falls with shrieks of fearful joy. Rickety bridges lead to larger falls and further refreshment stands located right in the centre of the action. At the largest waterfall long bamboo rafts are used as pontoons – gathering up those brave enough to jump.

By the end of the celebrations all are exhausted. On the evening of the final day the sound system is finally switched off – the MC has retired, the dancers and drinkers have gone home. In their wake cows have been brought in, to graze on the rubbish left behind.

As the sun sets stalls are stripped. A tractor and trailer is spotted once again, this time carrying inflated metallic balloons. Bobbing in the breeze, their shiny surfaces glint in the orange light of the skeletal stalls, single bare bulbs now revealed.

It’s time for me to leave too; leave both of my new homes – Palamei and Mama’s – and head off into a new adventure.

One Response to “travel bite: Tad Lo, Laos (Pt 2)”
  1. Carrie Haines says:

    Party time at home will never be the same.

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