"Can you tell us where tourists don't go?" I received a curious look from the hotel owner at Villa Rattanakon in Luang Prabang but there wasn't time for her to ask me "why" as I immediately followed up with our intentions and how we preferred to learn about a country - authentically, through the culture, people and customs. Something important to us was to take and print out photos immediately to give to the kids as I had learned on a previous visit that in rural villages most children have never seen a photo of themselves or to take it one step further, don't know what they look like as there are no mirrors. Think about that... Of course getting there was a journey in itself!
So many lessons to learn along the way. Life lessons - Time moves at its own pace and people are more accepting. It's a very good reminder to just be present and go with it, after all, whats the rush?
And then there is the experience of wandering very carefully (those leaves are sharp!) through a pineapple farm and watching your son's reaction to learning how pineapples grow. His mind was blown! This led to agricultural lessons of all types. Another story entirely as to how rice grows - like most people, he never stopped to think about that!
Along the way we stopped to chat with this mother and her children who explained they had gone into the jungle to get food. She was very happy to explain how they collected the bananas and timidly asked for her own Instax image after we gave each of the kids their own. I actually can't describe the feeling of knowing I was giving this woman her first family portrait. The happiness could be felt long after we drove off.
My gratitude to the wonderful staff at Villa Rattanakon for understanding what we needed and finding the perfect guide to help us on our journey, and of course a huge thank you to Cy for helping us accomplish beyond what we set out to do.