We finally made it through our long flight and there was nothing worse to wear, and were very happy to arrive at Phon Phisai, at Jeremy Holton and his wife Waree’s house on the banks of the Mekong River. When they were not here, they lived in Perth, together with their three sons, the youngest was Cody aged 4. We were training when we saw Alexander again in a few weeks, who were also 4 years old.
Jeremy teaches certain drawing techniques using oil pastels. Thumbnail sketch the scene, select one, transfer to a large piece of paper and color it with a thick layer of oil pastel that starts with a bright color. It should be done quickly without thinking too much and looking for color patches. Covering it with dark ink is rather unpleasant, but then a palette knife is used to scrape the layers of pastel that show the color underneath. Sounds good in theory. I’m a little too literal and it takes a long time to color. So now I am at the eroding stage. Who knows what will happen now? Jeremy is very patient. Fortunately Ian is certainly far ahead of me.
The temperature here is quite different, quite cold in the morning, around 20 degrees, and that day warms up to mid afternoon when around 32. We haven’t even gone out for a walk, because my phone keeps telling me, because we haven’t woken up early enough to come out cold. But there are beautiful walks along the riverbank to a large pedestrian patio area. Tomorrow morning we will go to the local market there where people come to the river from Laos with their produce.
At 7 pm, after a spectacular sunset, it was dark.
Transportation is interesting. There is a choice of the Ford Ranger ute or tuk tuk, which is called Samlo here. Everyone in the village naturally rides motorbikes or scooters, even elderly women! And as is the norm in Thailand, often the whole family uses one bicycle. Nothing runs very fast. They are supposed to wear helmets but no one is wearing.
Last night we went to a house-warming party near the village about half an hour away. Not like what we will have. Word spread and everyone appeared, in this case around 600, entire villages, including the very young and the very old. If you put a house heater on it must be good with popular singers and dancers. This alone costs around $ 4000 and they play for 5 hours, starting at 9 pm, finishing at 2 in the morning. We didn’t stay that long. The rural road was closed, outside the house, a large stage was erected and people brought their own mats and sat on the road. At both ends there are food stalls. Not set – they just appear. A good way to take care of catering. It was only one giant pop concert.
We are some of the few farangs (pronounced phalanges meaning foreigners) there and because of that it is a fairly new thing. This area of the Northeast was once part of Laos and is the place of origin for Isaan food. Very hot. So there aren’t many tourists here.
The food, cooked by Waree and his sister Jitt, is very delicious. Pad Thai or noodle soup for lunch and a choice of different curries and other interesting dishes for dinner.
PS I have included several shots of the Andes from the air because they are quite dramatic and there is almost no snow. All of that seems a long time ago now