The Fischer family visit

The Fischer Family Visit  Mid-November 2019.  Cathy Fischer along with husband Chris and son Theo were the first people from outside Laos to stay over in Phoumieng. Cathy is from Boise, Idaho in the US and has been a supporter of the project. They were guests of Bounchan and Noi for 2 nights and 3 days.

Getting to the Village.  In the 1st photo Bounchan has son Vong and Theo on his motorcycle. Bounchan’s wife Noi is seated on the right in the mini-truck that will take them to Houy Thak. But first is a ferry ride across the Mekong where we see Cathy’s husband Chris relaxing. At Houy Thak a Chinese Buffalo tractor is used for the remaining 8 kms. On the back of the tractor are Kai (in pink), Anna, Vong, Cathy, Theo, and Chris. Photos 8 through 11 give views of the mountains – it was a gorgeous day. At the village is the truck of a merchant bold enough to navigate the road to buy animals and rice. The final photo shows Theo and Anna damming up a stream on the return trip.

Kids at Play  Even though there was a language barrier, Theo fit right in with the village kids. The photos show a selection of what kids do best – play!! Lao kids are experts at spinning tops, as are most male adults who engage in competitions. Theo had brought along a Beyblades game, Cathy & Chris a treasure of books, supplies, and portable solar-powered LED light cubes. Chris volunteered to stress his back spinning kids around, but it was a little too popular – great effort Chris. At nighttime in Bounchan’s house everyone was cozy with a fire – serious hygge, as tablets, books, and supplies were explored.

Food   One aspect of village life of special interest to Cathy and her family was the food. In the 1st photo Theo is at the kids’ breakfast table enjoying pumpkin soup, greens, chilis, and rice. Bounchan is preparing chicken for lunch in the 3rd photo. The 4th photo shows the kitchen storage area with huge ears of corn hanging above the fire to discourage insects in the 5th photo. Lunch with fiddlehead ferns chicken and rice is shown in the 6th – the white thread, red ribbon, and flame is part of a ceremony to banish bad things which are burned by the light. The white threads are worn by the person participating in the ceremony. The mens’ and womens’ tables are seen in the 7th and 8th photos. Tousia, Bounchan’s middle daughter, is eating a snack of sour seeds in the 9th photo, which she then offers to Theo. But if you watch Theo closely in the video he’s not too certain about this snack. Check out Hmong rituals here: https://www.pbs.org/splithorn/shamanism1.html

Theo has been offered some sour seeds by Tousia -- holding the plate, but he's not certain about this snack. Watch his left hand closely in the video below. The seeds are apparently very sour.

Some roosters never sleep! Cathy took the video below waking up the first morning; the roosters had been crowing since midnight. The video gives a good idea what the village is like.