best of the rest: Laos

TREES, frogs and waterfalls…

On the banks of a river, waterfall bound, sits a minority village hidden from view.

A little girl is wandering down to the water’s edge. She has on a lilac t-shirt and knee length skirt with brocaded trim. A black wispy bob brushes against her delicate features.

As she approaches me she slows. Pushing the hair from her eyes she stops and squints uncertainly.

I smile. “Sabaidee” I softly say.

She hovers. Unsmiling.

Confidence gradually growing, the girl makes a gesture as though writing on the palm of her hand.

A pen.

I search in my bag and find one. I hand it to her, along with another smile.

This time I receive one in return: an overjoyed beam spreading beneath the wispy bob. She holds the pen tightly cradled in her arms, as a child would a treasured doll.

I walk away, leaving the beautiful face lit up in delight on the riverbank.

Frogs.

Tasty, barbecued frogs.

Big ones small ones. Fat ones thin ones. Salty and crispy.

Lean yet devilishly fatty in taste; a ‘skinny’ version of pork scratchings.

A live one comes to visit me in the shower.

But I prefer them barbecued, the perfect beer snack.

We have been admiring Ta De Vada’s waters. Rocks protruding from beneath a tumbling sheet of water create mini cascades that dapple its surface. Large rivulets of liquid are flung over the waterfall’s ledge, gleaming like marbles, dropping like hail.

And then the rain comes.

We depart from our reverie in a scramble. A sticky clay slide slopes down, carrying us to the main road. Clinging to the base of our feet the burnt red mud squeezes up between toes, squelching with every tentative step.

Rescued from our messy descent we crouch in the open back of a local family’s truck.

The rain has now gone. The tree appears.

Stripped of leaves it is crawling heavenwards. Arms of glinting barbed wire ice white against a flat grey-blue sky of storms.

The tree – pearlescent in contrast to heavy matt clouds – is gnarled yet elegant. It reigns supreme of its leafy comrades.

Don Khon, Si Phan Don.

Cycling along a forest road I pass looming trees flanking my sides. Pale and twisted, their smooth trunks curl round each other like lovers intertwined.

They reach up: locked souls stretching beyond their means. And an impression of warm white ghosts in silver grey cloaks lingers as I emerge from their tunnel.

Laos: trees, frogs and waterfalls.

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Comments
2 Responses to “best of the rest: Laos”
  1. Carrie Haines says:

    Incredible geology but will you eat the frogs when you come home!

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