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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Photographic proof

Gabriel "In the trunk" Maletta,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Posted On

04/3/10

Author

Gabriel "In the trunk" Maletta

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Sok sabay! sabay di bo'!

I hope everyone had a good time at Moung community.

I alway think of the time that i was with the group. I can't describe how much I miss and love everyone. I really had wonderful time being with you in Luang Prabang.

Thanks everyone for hosting us and seeing us off. That was so sweet of everyone. I think I can't thank everyone enough for their great compassion and kindness.

Lots and lots of love

Mara

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Hello from Mara

Mara Pho,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Sok sabay! sabay di bo’! I hope everyone had a good time at Moung community. I alway think of the time that i was with the group. I can’t describe how much I miss and love everyone. I really had wonderful time being with you in Luang Prabang. Thanks everyone for hosting us and seeing […]

Posted On

04/3/10

Author

Mara Pho

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    [post_content] => Recently we got back from a Hmong village atop a mountain! Trekking up switched between sucking a lot, and being awesome! The experience of reaching the top of the mountain, and staying in the village was phantasmagoric! If someone were to tell me now that it had never had happened, and I only dreamed it all, I would believe them! Well not really, but it almost feels that way! However, besides the surrealness, I think the best memory from that time was watching the moon rise, while surrounded by a hearty bunch of Hmong men just having fun! 
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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Hmong men mainly meander mountains.

Robin Henry Bartels,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Recently we got back from a Hmong village atop a mountain! Trekking up switched between sucking a lot, and being awesome! The experience of reaching the top of the mountain, and staying in the village was phantasmagoric! If someone were to tell me now that it had never had happened, and I only dreamed it […]

Posted On

04/2/10

Author

Robin Henry Bartels

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"Here it comes" we all said, sitting on the slope of a hill that rolled down into a deep valley below the Hmong village we were staying in. Robby, Nick, Johnny andmyself had decided to waiton the edge of this hill for a full moontorise. We hadbeen watching the brightness slowly increaseacrossa ridge where the villagers had grown Opium for profit a decade before. Then ever so slowly the moon poked up above the trees. It was the brightest full moon I had ever seen in my entire life. It had a massive halo surrounding it and all the craters were clearly visible. It was so bright our shadows were clearly visible on the ground. It was so bright I was able to even read from notes I had taken earlier. It truly was one of the most powerful and beautiful natural things I had ever witnessed in my entire life. And I am so glad I had it amongst good friends and in such a truly magical place.

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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rabbit on the moon

Gabriel "Junk" Maletta,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

"Here it comes" we all said, sitting on the slope of a hill that rolled down into a deep valley below the Hmong village we were staying in. Robby, Nick, Johnny andmyself had decided to waiton the edge of this hill for a full moontorise. We hadbeen watching the brightness slowly increaseacrossa ridge where the […]

Posted On

04/2/10

Author

Gabriel "Junk" Maletta

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The hike up to the Hmong village was difficult to say the least; for some more then others. (some being me) But when we were a little bit past half way, we discovered something SO amazing and SO delicious and something that could lift your spirits SO much, that for the remainder of the hike we hiked with inspiration and determination; we hiked faster then ever before. Our guide Chip-Sang (who I called chip) told us a story about a type of fruit he always used to eat when he was hiking up or down the mountain. He loved it as a child, and continues to love it today. When Chip revealed what this magical fruit was to us, we were all in awe. The fruit that only grows on the Laos mountaintops was not such a magical fruit, but a common fruit known to us "falongs." This fruit was-----MAK NAM! When I say mak nam, I really mean----RASBERRIES! They were the cherry on top of our day,even though theyslowed us down considerably because we stopped hiking every 10 minutes to stuff our mouths full with them. These rasberries were no ordinary rasberries though, they were golden rasberries!

So pretty much our hike up, and down the mountain was spectacular; especially our stay in the village. IT WAS AMAZING!

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Glorious Mak-Nam

Taylor Boucher,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

The hike up to the Hmong village was difficult to say the least; for some more then others. (some being me) But when we were a little bit past half way, we discovered something SO amazing and SO delicious and something that could lift your spirits SO much, that for the remainder of the hike […]

Posted On

04/2/10

Author

Taylor Boucher

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I had assumed a dawn hour spent at Wat Manorom would be gentle, a quiet place to meditate and begin my morning. It is not to be. Though I could hardly call the feeling ungentle, there is something in the gray cloud hanging low on the city that seems turbulent, the air charged with potential like some great energy forewarning a looming, savage storm. A breeze fluctuates between a stiff rustle and a whisper-hush, the former shaking the palm trees across the street and the latter raising the hair on my arms and refreshing the peppermint soap on my skin. Waxing and waning, the wind is enough to ring the bells on the Wat’s gold and burnt-red gate, standing modest in the smoke-gray light next to a corner electrical pole tangled with wires. On the street outside, a hunched man with a homemade broom sweeps frangipani blossoms into small piles amongst the leaves. As the metal shop doors roll open and the stream of revving motos wake the neighborhood, the day seems full of potential, the morning’s flourish promising a productive steady pace. And yet it is not to be; too soon the sun will be up, orange behind the veil of swidden smoke blanketing the city, and the day’s heat will take charge, slowing time to half-speed, and snuffing any latent desire to do anything but just be.

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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At Wat Manorom

Michael Woodard,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

I had assumed a dawn hour spent at Wat Manorom would be gentle, a quiet place to meditate and begin my morning. It is not to be. Though I could hardly call the feeling ungentle, there is something in the gray cloud hanging low on the city that seems turbulent, the air charged with potential […]

Posted On

04/1/10

Author

Michael Woodard

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Two electric fans tease my wispies from two different angles, one in front and one behind; I’m in a prime position. Paige, Heather, Robyn, Allana, and I are stretched out on the red floor cushions and pillows laid out on the second floor of the used bookstore I just purchased three books from (Brave New World, Camus’ The Plague, and Hesse’s Demian), listening to smooth French music that reminds me of being in the fitting room of some swanky indie clothing store. There are copies of National Geographic from the 60s leaning on the beams of the wall. There’s a 36-inch-screen TV in one corner that we will watch “New York I Love You” on tonight, before stopping by the night market and skyping with a best friend for a half hour that is coveted, even though we’ll probably talk about nothing really in particular. Star and flower decorated lanterns dangle from the ceiling, there are posters taped to the walls advertising the upcoming “ETHNIK Fashion Show,” and there are neatly labeled assorted teas in glass jars in the corner opposite the TV. I can only reach the end of the prologue to Hesse’s novel (“We can understand each other; but each person is able to interpret himself to himself alone.”) before I compulsively snatch my notebook and pen and begin scribbling out the tid-bits and carrots from the past few days that haven’t been allowed escape due to the recent absence of my journal. When I get in these moods I think of Hemingway’s short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” in which a writer dies in Africa, and he thinks of all the things he never got to write down in his lifetime, of all the infinitely important memories that will now tragically never be documented, and I wonder what important things I would write about if I were on my deathbed. If I knew my writing could prevent precious memories from slipping into oblivion, which ones would I choose to rescue when for each one I save countless others will be lost? Luckily I’m not on my deathbed, so I’m afforded a little more flexibility in the prioritizing of my words, and a little more time to write about silly things like flower decorated lanterns. And right now I’m only charged with the task of choosing what to stamp on the internet from the last week instead of a lifetime. But the first memory I feel inclined to jot down has recently been added to my Happiest Moments List, and I think even on my deathbed these moments would jockey with the best of them for a spot in my last spree of written thought.

Five of us and two local villagers were taking one of the two new racing boats we’d helped paint on its maiden voyage. I thought I’d made the right choice by following Gabe onto the thin craft, because he did rowing in high school and I figured he would be the extra push we needed in our race against the other boat. I failed to realize the negatives of the combined weight of 4 large westerners – Gabe, Robyn, me, and Jonny – and how easy it was for us to tilt the boat with only a slight shifting of weight. We made it a surprisingly long time before capsizing. When we did it was after trying to overcompensate for tipping by leaning too far to the right and taking on water, then too far to the left and then back to the right again, until the entire boat was flooded and there was nothing left to do but sink gradually with cries of frenzied terror as we met our impending doom. When I came up from under the water I laughed more sincerely than I have in a long time. I loved seeing my pure glee reflected in Robyn’s and Allana’s faces, and I clung to the hull of the boat more for support from crippling laughter than to avoid wading water.

We stayed three nights in that village (Bon Saking) before hiking up to a Hmong village in the mountains for a night. The trek was almost entirely uphill, and steep. Most of us got blisters and we were ashamed by how quickly we began wheezing during a particularly steep stretch. One of our local guides hikes that path every day to get to his crops. Many of the Hmong people have been relocated by the Lao government to plots on the lowlands, but the soil in these locations is generally the worst that’s left, so the relocated Hmong are forced to hike back up the mountain daily to cultivate crops. But many Hmong still live in the mountains, like the 194 people in the village we stayed in. Upon arrival we were greeted by angry barking, coming from otherwise cute mid-size male hunting dogs, who were intermittently hit by anyone who could wield a stick. We sat, exhausted, on small stools, and waved goodbye to our two guides, who turned almost immediately back to walk what had taken us six hours, and they probably did it in a third of the time. We were enthralled by an adorable little girl until two Hmong women walked up from working in the fields in traditional dress, which we thought was beautiful. I got a chance to look closely at the prize rooster (the colors on his feathers look like they’re painted on. He’s put in the jungle and trained to crow so that other roosters will come check out what all the fuss is about and then be captured or killed by the villagers. One man in particular obviously loved this chicken, and would sit watching the festivities with it in his lap, stroking slowly and possessively) before we were gathered for a few welcoming words and songs. The village elder told us a little about his home and we asked him questions before three musical performances were given, the first by a man playing a large flute-like instrument made out of what looked to be bamboo. He made the song sound even cooler by swinging the instrument low to the ground and then hopping around in a circle to the beat, breathing through his nose the whole time. As I’ve become more and more accustomed to, they expected a performance in return that’s representative of our culture (What performance is representative of American culture other than a mock baseball game or interpretive dance of the drive-thru?), so we sang the National Anthem and I rapped “I Wish” by Skee-Lo (complete disaster – I asked them to clap along and the beat never quite worked itself out, and their faces as I worked my way through the first verse went from excitement to confusion to something akin to the look you’d give someone who is slightly looney). That was after we got to try shooting at a small piece of paper with a cross-bow, and before we joined in the spinning top game none of us were very good at. Unfortunately it’s time to stop typing and have dinner (or maybe, knowing the vendor food, that’s fortunately). I’m thinking of Anne Lamott’s book on writing, Bird by Bird, in which she says her really good writing only ever came after getting through the necessary first three pages of mediocre stuff. My apologies for not wading far enough through this thought-swamp of writing to get at some really life-changing stuff – we’ll try again next week. I’ll leave you with a quote from a Lao man working here in this bookshop where we’ve lounged the day away. Imagine a silly grin and raise of the eyebrows as he turns up the music suggestively: “You need to take a nap or you needs to dance?” [post_title] => bippity boppidy boo [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bippity-boppidy-boo [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2010-04-01 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=48828 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 395 [name] => Mekong Semester, Spring 2010 [slug] => mekong-semester-spring-2010 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 395 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 257 [count] => 152 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 22.1 [cat_ID] => 395 [category_count] => 152 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Mekong Semester, Spring 2010 [category_nicename] => mekong-semester-spring-2010 [category_parent] => 257 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2010/mekong-semester-spring-2010/ ) ) [category_links] => Mekong Semester, Spring 2010 )

Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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bippity boppidy boo

Kimberly Kenny,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Two electric fans tease my wispies from two different angles, one in front and one behind; I’m in a prime position. Paige, Heather, Robyn, Allana, and I are stretched out on the red floor cushions and pillows laid out on the second floor of the used bookstore I just purchased three books from (Brave New […]

Posted On

04/1/10

Author

Kimberly Kenny

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"This should not be here" I said to myself halfway through our trek up a mountain in Laos. I was staring at Meleagris gallopavo, or Wild Turkey as they are commonly known. These birds are only indigineous to North America. No. Where. Else. So how did these birds, which can only fly 100 meters at a time, end up across the Pacific Ocean and settle on Lao mountain tops. I put the question to a few members of the group but they were as all stumped as I was. Baffled I turned to the one place where i knew i would find an answer. The internet. As of now I have been unable to find any answer to my question. Why are there turkeys in Laos? I know where the Lao embassy in Turkey is. I also know where the embassy of Laos is in Turkey. But I don't know why there are turkeys in laos. I am thoroughly defeated. but I promise this. By the end of the trip I will find out why there are turkeys in Laos.

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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This shouldn’t be here

Gabriel maletta,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

"This should not be here" I said to myself halfway through our trek up a mountain in Laos. I was staring at Meleagris gallopavo, or Wild Turkey as they are commonly known. These birds are only indigineous to North America. No. Where. Else. So how did these birds, which can only fly 100 meters at […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

Gabriel maletta

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The title of my blog obviously has to do with us. But, can you even begin to guess what I might begin to talk about that most foreigners think of when they think of a falang?? Weight! Yes, you're completely correct! We are so huge, massive, tall, gigantic. All of the above. In this particular circumstance, we were just to heavy. Our project in the Seung river valley was to paint boats for the village so they could use them to race. Of course we had to test them to see if they were fit to dominate in the boat racing sport. What we didn't even think to factor in was how small the boat was, and how much we just don't fit in them. And this is where one of the highlights from the project comes in.

Kim, Gabe, Allana, one of the local guides, and myself consisted of one racing boat. We had problems from the beginning. We would be so close to tipping, and jsut barley keep afloat. The catastrophe occured when we were racing on the way back. Our uneven rhythm, and the jolting of our strokes, was too much for that poor boat. We began to sway, and this time we didn't stop. First the boat tipped to one side, and water rushed in from the river. And as we scurried to the other side of the boat to stop the flooding of water, the other side tipped and flooded the boat. It was comedy. All I could do was look from one side to the other helplessely, untill realization hit me and giggles burst forth.

O yes, we sunk that boat. And I'm so glad we did. I am so glad I got soaked from head to toe because it was such a joyous moment. As we abandoned ship and clung to the overturned vessel, all we could do was laugh and laugh and laugh. We sunk the boat! Maybe a quote from Gabe the infamous rower can better explain, "I've never actually sunk a boat before." It was a moment where I was genuinely happy and couldn't stop laughing even if I tried.

So yes, we may be heavier than these boats were intended for, but it ended up bringing laughter to weary travelers. I am a falang, and I like being big.

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Falang!

Robyn Reeder,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

The title of my blog obviously has to do with us. But, can you even begin to guess what I might begin to talk about that most foreigners think of when they think of a falang?? Weight! Yes, you’re completely correct! We are so huge, massive, tall, gigantic. All of the above. In this particular […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

Robyn Reeder

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As the moons aura started to slowly shine over the mountain, which lay in front of me, I realized where I truly was standing; at a Hmong village at the top of a Northern Lao mountain. The surreal feeling of the experience hit me hard at that moment, and the whole trip up to this point began to pass through my mind. Many were memories of great times far from home and far from the ordinary, but this signal moment on this signal trek knocked them all out of the ball park. Time seemed to not matter, the only reason I knew time was still passing at all was because the moon was creeping further from the mountains silhouette. I hope in the future, the further we travel, and the more we see, the more time seems to slow down. Experiences like the Hmong villages make Dragons all worth while.

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Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

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Moon

Jonathon Luckett,Mekong Semester, Spring 2010

Description

As the moons aura started to slowly shine over the mountain, which lay in front of me, I realized where I truly was standing; at a Hmong village at the top of a Northern Lao mountain. The surreal feeling of the experience hit me hard at that moment, and the whole trip up to this […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

Jonathon Luckett

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