No sooner had we arrived in Laos than Ken and Jude set about helping us with all things shop-related. On the very first day Ken made a pizza bench for the girls to use to make pizza on, and made some pizza paddles out of some wooden boards bought from New Zealand and some bamboo for the handle.
One of the first things we did after this was visit a small Tai Dam ethnic minority village, where Forest Retreat was in the process of setting up a homestay with the families in the village (this is now underway).
We then set off on an adventure to Boten, where after all this time we still hadn’t managed to visit. We’d heard it had become a ghost town and were still surprised at what it was really like. There were giant multi-apartment complexes that are empty, malls and shops all deserted and completely empty streets everywhere. We found the now-closed casino (which used to be the town’s livelihood) and the now-abandoned hotels surrounding it. What an interesting place, for so many different reasons than we imagined.
During the trip we had several stops for various Lao sights, including the rice harvest and water buffaloes.
Back in Luang Namtha we decided to head up to Muang Sing and so took the stunning drive through the Nam Ha NPA. While there we visited a remote Ahka village, where all of the kids performed a song and dance for us. It was awesome!
We also visited the waterfall and saw yet another new insect/caterpillar type thing, and stopped for Jude to buy some handwoven fabrics in another village.
Ken and Jude accidentally timed their visit perfectly to see some Buddhist celebrations too. We went to the end of Buddhist Lent at the new temple, gave offerings and had our fortunes read for the year. We also went to the Loi Krotong festival where we released Lanterns and set off banana leaf and flower boats into the river.
Our staff loved seeing new creations in the pizza oven with Jude’s cooking and enjoyed eating them too.
Their visit was over far too soon, we had planned to do so many more things including travelling around some more of Laos; time flew too fast though and before we knew it they had to head back to Chiang Rai to catch their flight home. Here’s hoping they come back really soon, we had so much fun!