4.2.2: La’s brother’s wedding

Day 166: Luang Namtha

Today was the wedding of La’s brother Deth. I went to her house at 11:00 but she wasn’t there. There was an invitation that was left there for me along with instructions to go with someone to see her. A few minutes after I arrived, a girl turned up on a motorbike and I went with her to the party which was being held in the rice fields a few kilometres out of town. When we arrived the party was just beginning underneath a huge marquee. La was there with another girl at the entrance to welcome the guests to the party. I went to see her and she said that she would come and join me a bit later when she finished welcoming the guests.

166.1. La welcoming guests to the party under the big marquee in the rice fields.

I saw Sam spoke with him for a bit. I asked if Thing was here but he said that he was busy in Vientiane so couldn’t make it. I gave my camera to Sam so that he could take some pictures around the party. I sat with some guys who work with the Lao Airforce and we had lunch. It felt quite strange at first being the only falang there but after a while I got used to the situation. We drank beer in the Lao way with one glass that is passed around the table and everyone takes turns to cheers and drink. A bit later Deth and his new wife arrived and there were some speeches followed by music and dancing.

166.2. The guests of honour arrive (Deth is in the centre in white); Sam and Li and friends.

At around 14:00 the Airforce guys left as they had to go back to work and before long I was the only one left at the table. Luckily I noticed some of the guys who I was sat with at the wedding party a couple of days ago sat at a table nearby so I went to join them. A little while later Sam came over and I went to join him and his wife Li, who is La’s sister. Soon after, La came over and we could talk for a bit. I asked her how her exams went and she said that they were hard but she got through OK. She asked me if I could come with her to Vientiane afterwards but unfortunately I couldn’t. A bit later we went to join her friends on another table.

166.3. Lao style dancing.

La introduced me to her friend Nom who is at the same university as La in Vientiane. Nom taught me to say ‘souk di de’ when you cheers, which means ‘good luck to you’. La, Nom and I went to dance in the Lao way that I had done before, with everyone in a big circle going around slowly anti-clockwise. We stayed at the party until shortly after the sun went down and then we went back. I got a lift back to the Zuela on the back of Soumxi’s motorbike.

166.4. Sam singing and a group photo.

Day 167: Luang Namtha

I went to meet La at her house at 10:00 this morning. We were to go back to the party field for lunch a bit later on but first there was a ceremony to welcome Deth’s new wife into the family. I sat with La in the front room of her house and I gave her an amulet that I’d bought for her in China. It had an amethyst with jewelled wings on either side and she seemed to like it. I showed her some photos from my trip to Malaysia and China. Sam put on a video from his wedding and I saw that there were a few bits with me, Pedro and David in it. After a while Deth arrived and there was a ceremony where La’s father welcomed Deth’s new wife into the family. I felt a bit in the way in the house so I went outside and sat with a group of men who were sharing a bottle of lao-lao. I gave my camera to La so that she could take some photos of the ceremony.

167.1. The ceremony to welcome Deth’s new wife into the family.

Someone brought out some plates of food and there was so much that I thought that we would just stay at the house for lunch but I this was just a pre-lunch lunch. Soon after we went to the party field for lunch proper but by that time I was already quite full and couldn’t eat much, particularly the noodle soup which was very spicy. There was a lot of beer and lao-lao to follow and I was soon feeling quite drunk. We stayed in the party field until well after the sun had gone down and there was a lot of drinking, singing and dancing. My memory of the end of the evening is quite hazy but I did eventually made it back to my guesthouse.

167.2. Lunch at the party tent in the rice fields.

167.4. Later in the evening; La with her mum and dad.

Day 168: Luang Namtha

This morning I went to the internet café to make some CDs for La and Sam with the photos that I had taken over the last couple of days on them. I went to La’s house at around 11:00 to give her the CDs and then see her off at the bus station. When I arrived she was all dressed up again, apparently it was her friends wedding and the party was down the road from her house. She gave me a gift of a container that you hang from the rear view mirror of the car. It contains some miniature traditional Lao items such as a sticky rice basket and a wind chime. She invited me along to her friends wedding and went together.

When I arrived I was welcomed by the bride and groom and given a shot of whiskey. La took me to a table and I sat and had some lunch while La went back to the entrance to welcome the arriving guests. It was clear that the bride and grooms family were not as wealthy as La’s family since there was no beerlao on the tables, only bottles of water and lao-lao. I got to know some of the other people at the table and the first few lao-laos that went around helped to subdue the hangover from yesterday.

168.1. La’s friend, husband and guests arrive; Lao-lao in a water bottle, a potentially dangerous mistake.

Shortly after lunch I went to join La who had now finished welcoming guests and luckily the rounds of lao-lao were less frequent on this table. By this time it was becoming quite heavy going so I would only drink a small amount and then throw the rest of the lao-lao to the floor. I went to dance with La and then with her friend who had just got married. Dancing was a good way of avoiding more lao-lao! By about 17:00 the lao-lao and the hangover were getting the better of me so I decided to go back home and rest. I arranged to meet La tomorrow morning at 7:00 to see her of at the bus station.

168.2. La and her lao-lao.

Day 169: Luang Namtha to Huay Xai

After sleeping for a long time, I went to La’s house and met her at about 7:00. Her brother drove us to the bus station in his truck and we went for breakfast after La had bought her ticket. We had khao soi at one of the bus station restaurants. I am still finding it bit strange eating noodle soup so early in the morning. We said our goodbyes just before her bus left and I went back to Luang Namtha with La’s brother. I will miss her terribly and I hope that I will see her again one day. I decided to leave Luang Namtha today and got a bus to Huay Xai in the early afternoon. The journey took about 5 hours and when we arrived at the bus station the sun was beginning to go down. I met some Israeli guys on the bus and we shared a tuk-tuk into town. I went to the Sabaydee guesthouse and got a room. I went out for dinner and then came straight back to the room where I spent the evening watching a movie. I feeling very tired after the last couple of days.