Kow Piek

Another morning in Phonsavanh, Xieng Khouang, another trip to the noodle shop.  When I stepped out of the hotel today, the boys were busy sweeping the concrete.  It was more like creating a dust storm though, as they seemed more interested in playing than earning morning rice or bread that the hotel owner would give them.

I gave the boys 2 copies of their portrait from the other night, and one of them would nonsensically fling a print into the air and let it spin down to the ground.  The other boy kept his photo stashed inside his pants, since he lacked pockets.  Their photographs were already dirty, stained by their fingers and dirt and grime.  The sandals that CK bought him just days before already seemed dirty beyond repair.  Today they asked me if I could buy them some pants and bags for school, which they hoped to attend next month.  I told them, “Big brother spent all of his money the other day.”  It was a little lie of course, but most would have done the same.

Thuy ran off in the distance and came back with a little friend, his younger sister, who was eating rice and vegetables out of a plastic bag.  When I approached the family to talk to them, it was yet another heartfelt story.  His mother looked quite old, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was not much “older” than me.  Back in the states, it quite honestly hurts, that some people incessantly points out my age and how it relates to my likes, opinions and life.  They say I’m old, because I live in such a youth oriented culture.  But those American kids, they haven’t seen the people over here.  I’ve met some people younger than me, but the years and sun and life experiences have just worn them down.

Thuy’s mother told me how she had no parents as well, and made the trek to settle in Phonsavanh.  Her daughter Yeuh Yha suffered from a cough, lingering for about 3 months, which leads me to think it was bronchitis.  Being too poor to afford a luxury such as medicine, the family has just allowed her cough to continue and hopes that it will naturally go away.  With her “Hip Hop” sock hat (clearly a throw away from our own culture) Yeuh Yha just seemed so wise and aware about her little life and situation.

VV, CK, ST, and PU all unearthed their inner “mom” and took turns spoon feeding the rice porridge to the little girl, who knew how to “knope” to say thank you.  Even if all this is still a ruse, fabrication, or fiction, she wasn’t the one that created the world she was born in, and this was probably the best $1.25 we spent on this trip.


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