The only westerners in the village (part 2)

  Part one of the village

Exhausted, sweaty and covered in dirt, we finally arrived back at the village. All I wanted was a nice cold shower to wash away the stench but when I asked where to clean up I was pointed down to the river. In villages like this all over Southeast Asia they go about each day without running water or electricity and the closest hospital can sometimes be a days ride away. Spicy told me that less than a year ago the government had sent workers to the village and they had given them electricity. When I think about it I can not recall a single day of my life were I have not had power and some electrical device.

I explained as best that I could that I could not wash in the Mekong and asked if there was any clean water I could use just to wash my legs. Spicy tried the well but it was dry, he finally directed me to a large metal container they used to collect rain water for cooking. Using a small flannel I managed to freshen my self using the rain water.

After some more sticky rice ate by hand and washed down with the water we had brought with us the girls and I decided to go and sunbath down by the river bank. Spicy took us to a small bit of land still damp from the risen banks where we set our towels down and stripped to our bikinis. Spicy left us to go and clean his boat but the two children from the village stayed, they were both five years old and at the time we thought they would be no trouble.

Once we had gotten relaxed and started to enjoy the sun it soon became clear that the children had other ideas. They had no reservations about playing in the dirty water, filling their mouths and trying to spit the water over us. They did not seem to understand the words no or stop although we found out later they new some English. The children although young knew how to get attention; we found out if you are not running around splashing with them they would do just about anything for attention. 

The little girl found a discarded empty plastic bottle and to my amazement managed to catch a fish with it. We stayed by the river taking it in turns to entertain the young ones while the others relaxed; Anna was very good with the children so we let her do most of the work. Two hours later and it was time to take them back before they got into trouble or were swept away in the water. We washed the mud off in the Mekong, effectively taking the shower spicy had suggested.

On the way back to the village we could see many families bathing in the river, using soaps to fight against the dirt left from the passing boats. Back at the village it was not long until it was time for more food but first we had to meet the chief of the village to get permission to stay there. Spicy took us around to meet him outside of his house which was the only building made from bricks, and coloured pink.

The chief had heard about us, being the crazy girls who had walked the mountain in the midday heat. Apparently he liked us as we got his permission to stay. The sky was starting to go grey and the clouds rolled over us threatening to burst at any second. We were told to go to Spicy’s house as we would need to be under cover to eat; half the village came to eat with us at his house. This was nice although 20 people all eating with their hands in a village that has no clean water was a bit unsettling.

To get rid of any germs and just because it’s what they do in the village we washed the food down with some home made whisky. The women cleared away the food and brought more to snack on throughout the night. With one shot glass the fun started to begin. We all sat around in a big circle when one by one the shot glass was passed around.  I have never been a big whisky drinker but since being in Southeast Asia I must admit I’ve grown to love this drink and the way they drink it.
The first bottle went down quickly, and was shortly followed by a second and a third until Spicy disappeared realising we would need more. The chief of the village found it funny how one of the girls pulled a face after every shot, he laughed and spoke with Spicy translating. As the drink kept coming every one was talking and the language barriers seemed to disappear, with everyone being as expressive as possible. The village children were with us, although not partaking in the shots as most were under five years old.

It was around 4am when everyone left and it was time for us to sleep. It was a good job that we had consumed more than 8 bottles of whiskey or else I fear I would not have slept on the insect infested porch. In the morning I was woken by the ringing of a mobile phone and the sound of the cockerel, this was an odd mix and to this day I still find it amusing that they all have mobiles in a village that still has not go running clean water.

After a breakfast of sticky rice eaten by hand it was time to head back to civilisation and for us to find a proper shower.




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