Happy New Year

2013 has gotten off to an awesome start!  We saw in the new year with a fun party at Forest Retreat Laos where we danced the night away.  Our first westerner Alex started helping us in the shop and we have our second person Lizzie coming this week so we are stoked to have more hands on deck.

Forest Retreat Laos opens upstairs

We  have opened upstairs and customers are loving the comfy lounge suites and balcony up there.  It’s so awesome to have so many long standing projects being finished and being able to enjoy them!

Beautiful Luang Namtha rice fields

Luang Namtha is so beautiful in the afternoons and evenings at this time of year and we’ve taken advantage of this by spending time out watching sunsets and exploring.

Nam Ha NPA monastery

We have been working with Thong to set up many new initiatives for some small ethnic minority villages here and yesterday spent the whole day out at Ban Sin Oudom, a Tai Lue tribe who live on the Nam Tha riverbank across from the jungle in the Nam Ha NPA.

Ban Sin Oudom new hut on the Nam Tha river

We have helped them to start a village homestay, as well as make 3 new trekking trails with a jungle hut and river hut also.  It was so cool to see the villagers super excited to be a part of the eco-tourism project in Luang Namtha and see them begin to reap the rewards.  Yesterday marked the official opening of the trail and huts so the villagers held a lunch of freshly caught river fish, river weed, vegetables grown in their garden and sticky rice.  We saw a 13 year old girl walk into the village after collecting plants to make brooms from the jungle and Karen tried to pick it up and couldn’t even lift it to her head (the carrying method) despite using all her strength.  These girls are so tough!

Broom making season

We also had a party at the Chinese disco to welcome Alex to the shop.  Over the coming weeks we have plenty of things planned so will update again soon.