Laos New Year

Date: 15/04/2007 | Author: Dave

Well this was worth waiting for.
There is a dramatic increase of traffic and people in Luang Prabang leading up to Pi Mai Laos. We have found ourselves here with fortuitous timing. Judging from the crowds flocking in and our recent research, Luang Prabang is known for having the best water festival in the country (and probably the whole of SE Asia).
Khoun is busy doing repairs to the Jeep, not only so that we can experience it with a superior platform from which to distribute our watery good luck blessings but also to make us prime targets for the locals because "every family needs lots of luck in the new year". Khoun and Khone take us to build a stupa down on the far side of the Mekong. We build stupa fast "for good luck" then cover it in white flour..... "lucky colour".
Dear reader, you, like me, have probably already spotted the central theme in Pi Mai Laos. It is certainly a time for cleansing houses, bodies and Buddha statues but most folk are busy mustering enough luck to get them through to 2551. Laos is one of the poorest countries in S.E. Asia and luck plays an important roll here.
We spend two days in the middle of the biggest and best water fight I have ever seen. Actually 'fight' is the wrong word. There is no aggression, only a sea of smily happy Laos and farang. Funnily, you do on occasion see a half dry foreigner who thinks it possible to stay dry by adopting an attitude of 'I am not involved' as they walk this watery gauntlet. Useless. We are soaked all day and my face aches from grinning insanely. I take a lot of photos but believe me this is not easy.
We get hit by a lot of flour and also a black grease made from the soot from the kitchen gas burners. It is like a black creosote.
There is a superb parade to interrupt the deluge for a while and then it resumes unabated till sunset, when without a word spoken all water throwing suddenly stops. We are prepared and have our dry clothes and other dinner essentials like Boggle, pens and paper in a plastic bag.
The next morning, short one white tee shirt (now blackish) but having gained the experience of a lifetime we sadly leave Luang Prabang and our new friends, Khone and Khoun.

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