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Published: January 17th 2020
We finally made it through our long flights none the worse for wear, and were very glad to arrive in Phon Phisai, at Jeremy Holton and his wife Waree's house on the banks of the Mekong River. When they're not here they live in Perth, together with their three sons, the youngest of whom is Cody aged 4. We're getting in practice for when we see Alexander again in a couple of weeks, who is also 4.
Jeremy teaches a particular drawing technique using oil pastels. Quick thumbnail sketches of scenes, choose one, transfer it to a large piece of paper and colour it with thick layers of oil pastels beginning with light colours. It is supposed to be done quickly without thinking too much and looking for patches of colours. Covering it all over with a dark ink is a bit dispiriting but then a palette knife is used to scrape away the layers of pastel revealing the colours beneath. Sounds good in theory. I'm a bit too literal and it took me ages to colour in. So now I'm at the scraping away stage. Who knows what will happen now? Jeremy is very patient. Thank goodness. Ian of
course is miles ahead of me.
The temperature is rather different here, quite cool in the morning, about 20 degrees, and then the day warms up to mid afternoon when it is about 32. We haven't even been out for a walk yet, as my phone keeps telling me, because we haven't woken early enough to go out in the cool. But there is a lovely walk along the river bank to a large promenade terrace area. Tomorrow morning we're going to the local market there where people come over the river from Laos with their produce.
By 7pm, after spectacular sunsets, it is dark.
Transport is interesting. There is a choice of a Ford Ranger ute or a tuk tuk, called a samlo here. Everyone in the village of course rides a motorbike or scooter, even elderly women! And as is the norm in Thailand often a whole family is on one bike. No one goes very fast. They're supposed to wear helmets but no one does.
Last night we went to a house warming party near a village about half an hour away. Nothing like what we would have. Word gets around and everyone
turns up, in this case about 600, the whole village, including the very young and the very old. If you put a house warming on it has to be good with popular singers and dancers. This alone cost about $4000 and they play for 5 hours, started at 9pm, finished at 2am. We didn't stay that long. The rural road is closed off, outside the house, a huge stage is erected and people bring their own mats and sit in the roadway. At either end are food stalls. Not arranged - they just show up. A good way to take care of catering. It's just one giant pop concert.
We were some of the few farang (pronounced falang which means foreigners) there and as such were quite a novelty. This area in the North East used to be part of Laos and is where Isaan food comes from. Very hot. So there are not many tourists here at all.
The food, cooked by Waree and her sister Jitt, is delicious. Pad Thai or noodle soup for lunch and a choice of different curries and other interesting dishes for dinner.
PS I've included a couple of shots of
the Andes from the air as they were quite dramatic and there was hardly any snow. It all seems so long ago now.
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