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Published: September 7th 2005
Like so many times before, this war was waged in the most beautiful of places, on the most peaceful of peoples.
This otherwise idyllic place is Muang Ngoi Neua, a small one-street village nestled amongst spectacular karst mountains, where one can hear no cars. No motorbikes, no telephones. The serene Nam Ou
river isolates this peninsula from the rest of northern Laos and most everyone likes it this way.
On a mud bank neatly bisecting the river, two groups of baby-faced men nervously faced off in the afternoon sun. In the background, their grim minions worked furiously, nails digging deeply into the dirt to compile an arsenal of mudballs.
For one unnerving moment, all was quiet on the northern front, and then all hell broke loose. Boys will be boys, and soon mud was hailing in every direction. I love it! Best of all, the war cries are the same, no matter what language you are fighting in. Let them have it!! Take that, you @$#!!!!! Give it to them!! Do you GIVE in?!!! Thunk!
There is nothing like a clump of mud smacking you square in the temple to focus one's attention. I fell to
the ground, and they rushed to my aid. "'Tis nothing", I assured them, "just having a flashback to 1981." I showed them the scar on my knee from a flying serrated Milo
tin lid from a similar schoolyard battle and they were suitably impressed.
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