Mimosa Sesitiva. Looks a little like a fern (probably from the same family). When you touch its leaves, they close up like a defense mechanism and stay like this for 10 minutes.
Banana Flower. Useful for the relief of muscle pain
Coriander leaf. Used extensively in Thai cooking. Dark green in colour and has long leaves with spiky edges.
Elephant Screaming. A kind of nettle. Creates an itchy rash if you touch it.
When we arrived at the village, Tao bought us some coconut macaroon sweets from the village shop to replace the sugar we’d lost through hours of walking in the intense heat. The sun hadn’t been shining but was still warming us intensely through the clouds.
The Lua Tribe
The Lua people originated from the Lawa tribe. They practice swidden agriculture as well as wet-rice cultivation and favour villages on the crests of hills. The women may wear costumes that have blue tunics and skirts to below the knees as well as a turban, but the men dress ordinarily.
We were to stay at the school at the top of the village, as the teacher was away on holiday. There was a minor glitch though : the teacher had forgotten to leave the keys with anyone in the village, so although breaking into the kitchen was essential (Tao says it’s not the first lock he’s had to break in one of the villages!), we persuaded him against breaking the shower room door as well!
The 4 of us had a lovely meal out on the balcony adjacent to the kitchen, sitting on a wicker mat around a small wooden table. Kai is an excellent cook, and it’s not that the dishes he makes are complicated, it’s that he knows which flavours taste good together and exactly how much to use of each ingredient. As i’m vegetarian, Tao made sure we all ate meat-free meals for the duration of the trek. Despite making me feel a little guilty, it was a nice gesture on his part. Mia certainly didn’t mind : she was enjoying the food just as much as i was. It’s quite strange when i dwell on the fact, but Mia is more than twice my age yet we got on fantastically, and she was an intelligent and interesting travel companion.
After the meal, when Tao embarked upon a blanket hunt, he returned with an invitation from one of the villagers. Although the majority of them were not very receptive to strangers, one family had not only answered Tao’s blanket plea, but also offered us a room in their house for the night (sleeping in the school would mean no outside walls to keep out the cold) and provided us with matresses to sleep on. Furthermore, the head of the family produced 2 bottles of rice whisky (similar to Lao Lao and tasted almost as potent!) and invited us to join him and his family. So we did the rounds with the Thai Lao, accompanied by Mia’s bag of cashew nuts and Kai’s amusing ‘drinking water out of a dog’s bowl due to the shortage of glasses’ antics!
Photo is of the view from the school in the Lua village of Huay Tone