First, the website has been updated with the Vietnam photos. I apologize for the poor formatting in places–there are some photos that still need cropping–but for four hours of frantic Webwork/sorting through about 500 photos, it’s not so bad. (I apologize for not including the Laos pix, especially the glorious sunsets over the Mekong River–but I ran out of time.)
So, while it’s all uploading…where were we at last writing? I think I had just finished the natural dye workshop with Dong. Well: yesterday, Dong introduced me to another friend of hers, Ms. Dounagdeuane Bounyavong, who’s a writer and textile collector. She, in turn, was kind enough to invite me over to her home, where she maintains a museum-quality textile collection donated by various friends. It was amazing–some of the work there is so fine that even old, expert weavers like Dong’s mother aren’t able to reproduce it. I took loads of photos, but haven’t yet had a chance to look at them.
One thing that was quite amusing, though, was a skirt woven by a Black Hmong village woman circa the Vietnam War (20-30 years ago). The Hmong typically weave decorated skirts with various designs in a 4″ fancy hem. This particular skirt’s hem features traditional designs–crocodiles, fish, frog-men–alternating with helicopters, rockets, and bombers. There’s even a cargo helicopter, distinguishable from the regular helicopter by its thicker body and bigger rear rotor. i’ll try to get that photo posted soon.
Anyway, I’m catching the bus tomorrow morning to Vangvieng. Vangvieng is about four hours from Vientiane, and exists primarily as a way to break up the 12-hour journey from Vientiane to Luang Prabang (it’s about four hours north of Vientiane, 8 hours south of Luang Prabang). However, it reportedly has excellent karst scenery, kayaking, caving, etc.–so I will probably stay in Vangvieng for 3-4 days before heading north to Luang Prabang. I’ve already seen one or two tours that look really interesting…and I may take the opportunity to learn rock climbing.
off to vangvieng…