Thursday, July 29, 2010

A trek to Mao's home


More pictures here:

Mao was one of the girls we met on our first trek. She proposed to take us on another Trek to her village, so we took her up on the offer. This time, the "we" was Koen, Dieter and me (they're in the group picture of the previous post.) We told her that we wanted a 4 hour trek, so I assumed we're going to do 2 there and 2 hours back. I brought half a liter of water with hopes of buying water as needed on the way, just as I did on the previous trek. All assumptions turned out to be completely wrong. The trek was quite mild at first, just a simple walk through town. Unexpectedly, we turned off into an alley between a couple buildings and began climbing up a steep hill. I was out of water in about 15 minutes and inquired where the next village will be. Mao looked at me with confusion and said that we're going to her village and that it's not very far. She said it was just another kilometer up the steep section, so once again, I presumed her village must be near by since we were closing in on the 2 hour mark. We reached the top of the hill and I asked how much farther till we can get water. She replied smiing "Oh, not far, just 8 more kilometers." My jaw dropped. There was no way I could do another 8km with no water. We started figuring out how we can find water. Koen suggested trying the stream that looked clean, but I reminded him of all the wild animals that might be doing their business up stream which quickly discouraged the idea. We stumbled upon a house where we asked for some boiled water. We filled out our plastic bottles with boiling water and dropped them in a river to cool off. The water didn't taste too good, but it kept us hydrated.

After 2.5 hours, we reached Mao's village. She led us through the yard full of ducks, chickens, dogs, and hogs, past the indigo barrels and a weaving machine, into a concrete structure.

The interior was very dark with illumination coming off the two free hanging lightbulbs and the TV. A couple kids were standing in front of the TV in a zombie-like state watching the gruesome instructional show on killing chickens. I had to look away. Mao lead me to the kitchen to point out our lunch being cooked. Seeing the kitchen, I knew that my stomach won't be the same after that.

Once the water boiled, a chicken was placed in there. It was then cut up on what looked like it my have been a cutting board on the ground and then served to us. The chicken was very bland, exactly what was expected from boiled chicken. Rice was served in small bowls and chicken was to be placed on top. The only spice available was the extra spicy chili sauce which I ended up using with hopes of killing off all the bacteria. During lunch, each member of the family approached us with a shot glass demanding that we have a shot of 30% rice wine with them. The problem was, the family was big, so we were pretty drunk by the end of lunch.

Here's the big, drunk, happy family.

The clothing that everyone is wearing is hand made by the women of the family. They make linen thread out of the plant, then weave the fabric on a machine that resembles 500 year old technology. The fabric is then dyed with indigo. Garments are sewn on antique sewing machines and are hand decorated with cross stitch and embroidery.


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  2. Hi Olya, great story and pictures!
    I was curious to see the picture with you standing on the rock with your face towards the valley...and me coming in, but apparently it did not make the final cut ;-)


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