Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ready to Marry Laos - Vang Vieng

For the trip to Vang Vieng the TITs (Ten Independent Travelers) decide to pay for a covered pickup truck to take us the 3 1/2 hour drive. It turns out to be the best decision and I stand outside on the back of the truck on a platform (holding on tightly to be sure I don't fall off) watching the rivers and mountains of Laos fly past as the sun sets.

Our first day in Vang Vieng three of us decide to rent motorcycles to explore some of the caves in the region. The drive takes us through gorgeous mountains, through fields and down dusty roads. As always, children wave and scream hello as we pass. The first cave is beautiful and we are the only ones in it. It is cool inside and before climbing back down we stop to admire the view across the river.

After stopping for lunch along the river, we drive to a second cave. Outside is a giant clear lagoon filled with blue water from the caves. We stop to swim - swinging off ropes, jumping off of the high trees and watching locals cross the bridge. Climbing into the cave, we are treated to a giant bronze reclining Buddha that the locals have placed inside to worship. With the light streaming in it is stunning.

Driving home, the sun is setting and I decide to walk back into town on my own. At this point, the day has already been amazing, but it only gets better. Stopping to take some photos of children, I am asked by a quiet man if he can practice his English with me. I agree and soon he has invited me to teach his English class. I ask when class begins and he gestures the school behind us, pointing to his watch to indicate that class is starting now. I am filthy from the motorbike and soaked from my wet bathing suit under my clothes, but I join his class anyway.

Somehow I am suddenly in a brokendown Laos classroom teaching 25 children how to pronounce colours in English. At first they quietly repeat the colour after me. Then I encourage them to yell the answer louder and louder until they are all screaming "purple! yellow! blue!" as loud as they can. I am surprised that the children are actually listening to me and I realize how fun it is to run around the class pointing to objects, asking "What colour is this?" while the kids scream the answer at the top of their lungs.

I then take them to the field outside. I yell a colour and the first kid back to find an item of that colour and bring it back to me wins candy. I can tell that the teacher thinks that this is a little unorthodox, but he simply stands there beaming at me. The kids seem to be learning and he is clearly just happy to have a native English speaker teach his class.

As the class ends, the teacher gets them to chant my name and soon I am in the middle of a circle of kids screaming, "Della! Canada! Della! Canada!" Before leaving, they all pile on me to say goodbye - grabbing onto my arms, hanging off of my back, kissing me. One wraps himself around my leg and will not let go.

The next few days in Vang Vieng children call my name as they bike past and each time I smile. Laos continues to charm me over and over again. I was invited to stay and teach for a year. I am considering the offer. Anyone got a better counter-offer?


Anonymous Sarah Pretty said...

Della, I just called Wyeth to discover that you are nolonger that. I wasn't in the least surprised to hear that you are travelling. Jennifer mentioned to me that you have a blog so I tracked you down on the Web and am really enjoying reading about your exploits. I too quit my job last spring and travelled for several months in Eastern Europe I hope you have a super great time! Cheers, Sarah Pretty (from the Marketing for PR course at Ryerson years ago)

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Della said...


Jen told me that you called. Of course I remember you from the marketing PR course. Send me your e-mail address -

7:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home