Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Hmong Heaven; or off we go a-Hmonging

We are all about to embark on a two-day Hmong-ing adventure. The dudes on the right are our guides, one Lao and one Hmong. They're carrying our food and water.
We'll soon find out that no one has a first-aid kit. Also, notice Chip's white basketball shoes--they'll never look like that again.

To find the Hmong, first we cross a river on a boat.

then we start to hike through the jungle.

They don't really maintain the trails, and it's rainy season, so we hike through a bog.

a bamboo bridge across a river that's collapsed. At this point, we all take our shoes off and basically swim.

Chip and Al recovering from crossing the river.

Please note that Al is not wet from the river, he is wet from the sweltering heat.

Rainy season in Laos means 90 degree temps and 120% humidity.

having crossed all those rivers, it's time to start climbing into those mountains.

cultivating rice, i think.

we stopped at a Khmu village for lunch.

we toured the Khmu village, and found it very peaceful and quiet.

we would also learn later that the Khmu are wealthier than the Hmong, and you can easily tell by this village.

Back on the trail. Look at those legs!

Not sure, but I think the Hmong are straight up one of those mountains.

The hmong aren't interested in switchbacks, so the trails go straight up.

Does that adequately explain my dazed look here?

or is it the heat?

Here's the village.

We found the Hmong!

I don't know exactly what Alex is thinking here, but I'm guessing it's something like "this is what we hiked all day for?"


We were all really wanting a shower when we got up to the village. Our guides said it was just a 20 minute hike back down to a river, so we took no showers that day.

this family let us sleep in their house for the night.

This is the house. They cook and sleep in one room, and everything else happens outside.

Chip is the happiest man on earth. no one in the village has ever seen a "mikas"-white guy speaking Hmong before. They all loved him.

Children followed Chip around like he was the pied piper. He led them into a schoolhouse, and taught them Hmong primary songs. I had a vision of chip living up here, having the time of his life. Come to think of it, some of the older people offered their daughters for him to marry, so he could move up here pretty easily.

here they are, following Chip.

The kids all just hang out all day long while their parents work in the fields. It's kinda crazy, actually.

I'm just recording stuff.

a view of the village from a few steps away. you have to walk a few paces to use the bathroom.

The sunset was spectauclar, and then the moon rose over these mountains and lit up the night.

our guides made us dinner. They were so awesome.

these pictures are a little misleading b/c it looks like we could see our food. nope.

this was the bed that Kimberly and I slept on. It bowed in the middle and on the sides, so it was like sleeping on a stiff bamboo hammock. we didn't sleep much. But we really can't complain: Chip and Alex were covered in ants the whole night.

In the morning our guides made us breakfast. We were outside the hut eating and one shouted out: "Do you want us to kill a chicken?"

Without hesitation Kimberly responded:


Hiking back down.

a little rest stop on the trip back down. we're waiting for our boat to come

back across the river.

and to reward ourselves for our hard work living with the Hmong for one day, we went to a waterfall.
And that's the story of Hmong heaven.

1 comment:

KamilahNYC said...

Awesome hmong story!