Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Day 18 - Last Day in Luang

We woke up fairly early. About 2am... and then again at 2:30... 2:45... 3:00 etc etc.

The monks were driving us insane . Closely following them were the staff of the hotel. You might remember we had no towels or hot water the day befroe. This time, we had no glasses (useful for brushing your teeth when you can't drink tap water) and no second roll of toilet paper. Oh yeah, and we'd come back one night to find all our windows wide open and the room freezing. Add to this the fact that we'd been bitten by mosquitos the owner said couldn't possibly exist at this time of year and the horrific suburn we'd picked up from our tubing the day before and you can understand why we weren't quite up to much on our last full day!

What we did do was explore the town a bit more. We'd seen signs here and there for Mister Mouse and we'd wondered what it was all about so were pleased to find ourselves outside the office in the early afternoon.

Mister Mouse is a fantastic literacy project that was started by a university student who grew up in a village nearby. Having been taught English and how to read his own language as a child, he got a vision for passing on the privilege to others who lack the opportunities in the villages of northern Laos. Returning to Luang Prabang after university, he gathered other student and youthful friends and set up a literacy project creating books in both Lao and English. These are illustrated very well by teenagers with stories of local traditions alongside health and social issues such as AIDS and international relations.

We were very impressed partly because we ourselves are considering working in a similar area in the future and the art element really appealed to Sheena. What impressed us more than anything though was their vision and attitude. With very sparse resources and no training whatsoever, they were managing to have a very positive impact in some of the most needy areas of their country. Very worthwhile.

We meandered around the streets making the most of the evening light. In Luang Prabang the sun sets down all the streets that run east-west and the sunlight is a photographer's dream. Streets, temples, everything was lit in the most intense and piercing light.

Returning to our favourite watering hole for a last dinner, we watched the boats slipping by in the dusk on the Mekong, then did a bit of final shopping at the night market before making our way back to endure another night of hellish chanting from the everpresent temple. For once, the staff had got it right, we had everything we needed for a good night's sleep except silence.

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