Rachel Holan
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Mo' Money Mo' Problems

March 2, 2009 @ 9:51 PM | Permalink

I got yelled at yesterday by a swarm of tribal ladies in a village in northern Laos called Muang Sing. They were genuinely concerned that I was sitting peacefully drinking coffee and reading without my newborn baby in sight. It was when I burst in to hysterical fits of laughter that the situation turned sour.

It took ten minutes in broken English and Thai for me to realize that their reasoning behind this madness was that my breasts were so large that I must be breast-feeding. After pacifying them with the small amount of Thai I speak they sat down at my table and started asking me questions about everything, like where I was from and if I wanted to buy one of their bracelets or some opium.  

I love northern Laos. Yesterday I took three different buses for a total of eleven hours to get one hundred miles. The roads are packed dirt, sand and rocks, and not kind to your sanity. Around every corner is yet another postcard-perfect views of rolling mountains, roadside villages, grass huts, pebble-strewn streams, and children playing with the dirt in the middle of the highway permanently seared into my memory. There are no rest stops, so if you need to throw up, just open a window, which happens sickeningly often. If you need to go to the bathroom and speak Lao, you can ask the driver to stop on the side of the road for you. If you need to go to the bathroom and don't speak Lao, you're basically screwed.

I'm feel very confident in saying that the Lao-wegians are the most chill people I have ever met. Northern Laos is a lot more impoverished than their central brothers, so they have been very interested in me and my "western" gadgets, like books. Every time I pull out my book, which is always near me, they crane their necks to check out the pictures on the cover and the print inside they cannot read. On Bus Three I tired of 'Tai Pan', by James Clavell and went into by backpack for a 'Moby Dick' reunion, and that nearly blew their minds.

They also LOVE my iPod. On Bus One I was sitting next to one of the young tribal girls. My music called to me, and her eyes widened like tea saucers when I offered her one of the ear pieces. We started off with 'Job 2 Do', which has the number one hit song in Thailand right now, and which I am totally addicted to. (For anyone interested in Thai reggae music, check out the CD called 'No War' by Job 2 Do, it is amazing!) The Thai and Laos languages are very similar, so she understood the words, even though I didn't. When she stopped quivering with excited fear over the music coming out of my iPod, I switched it up to figure out what other music she could like...

Rachel's Study of the Musical Taste of Fifteen Year-Old Tribal Girl From Laos:

Positive: Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, and Ben Harper.
Negative: The Prodigy, TLC, Tom Jones and Biggie Smalls, aka Notorious BIG. 

Someone should give me a PhD.


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Great Story...I really got the feel of being there with you. More pictures, please!

Jamie Holan on A Nice Welcome Home 2009-04-15

AAAAHHHH the Caribbean....I'm ready to go back NOW. Thanks for the deep breath and pause in my hectic day

Jamie Holan on A Story for the Morning 2009-04-15

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