The next day we travelled two hours to a new primary school – concrete and wooden, three classrooms.
In some of the poor villages there is a donor food assistance program providing a rice meal for children at lunchtime.There is a food store building built on poles in the school.This is part of the incentive to get children to school.Also if children do not go to school the Village Head fines the parents.
Note the metal protectors below the food hut –
to discourage pests getting in
The meeting was held with the local village chief, teachers and village education committee. We sat on small children’s stools for an hour which was a numbing experience.
The conversations were all translated in bite sized chunks. The vice minister had eight concluding comments – it was quite a marathon.
We then travelled for another half hour to a small town called Nalea to a set lunch provided by the education people. More Lao-Lao toasts. We had an afternoon meeting with district education people; they have a staff of 36 people of which 2 dealt with financial matters. We then returned to Luang Namtha 2.5 hours away.
Upon our return we were told we had another dinner with the provincial governor in a separate dining area of a local hotel. If you sit at the end of the table you there is less translated conversation. Sometimes you can not control your seating position. One part of the menu was fried silk worms – these are crunchy and a bit like a fine potato chip.
A bag of silk worms I saw another day
The next day we met the provincial treasury, as the treasury process all the education financial transactions.
With some time to spare before the return flight to Vientiane we went and visited a new temple on a hill. There was a 2,000kip entry fee (NZD 0.33) There was no ventilation but they had installed fans.
I had lovely lunch of bamboo shoots and rice for lunch. This was a restaurant run by a local ethnic minority and this was one of their speciality dishes. I have eaten more rice in the last month than in the last decade. Spuds are just a memory. The local dishes are good; I do test them for the level of spiciness as they can have a real kick.