On to Saravan

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Breakfast of noodles and down the road to Saravan (Salavan)

We passed between two national parks and in some places it was reminiscent of the West Coast with green and tall trees. It was two hours driving on sealed roads followed by a further two hours on unsealed roads.

We crossed a number of high rivers. At one point the bridge was underwater (seen in the left of the 1st picture below) and we had to use the local ferry.  There is a smaller pedestrian & bike ferry (seen in the bottom of the 1st photo with the orange umbrella)- a wooden platform on canoes.  Then there is a larger vehicle ferry with a permanently attached boat. 

The roads were muddy and we were slipping and sliding. I don’t think the driver knew how to engage the four wheel drive. It wasn’t unsafe, but I didn’t like the idea of possibly having to get out and push given the depth of the mud.

Along the way from a roadside stall we had purchased some flattened cooked chicken and sticky rice. We stopped not far out of Saravan in a small village where the wife of the director of the district education board had a small restaurant. We took our purchases along and bought a few other bits to make a lunch. It was raining heavily and we sat under the awnings. It’s been a long time since I have seen rainfall comparable with Fiordland.

We progressed to the education offices and started our meetings. The rain was so heavy by this stage that you could hardly hear the conversations due to the windows being open and rain pelting down on the tin roof.

We visited the school next door to the DEB. We sat and meet the teachers and the education committee. I ask them about the number of students and teachers, how they manage their budgets, how do they charge the students etc.

Depending on the budget the school has, the cost per student per annum ranges from 3,000 kip (NZD 0.50) in the poorest province, through to 30,000 kip (NZD 5.00) in a provincial town.

I saw local people hand-harvesting rice. Bundles were collected and bound up for drying, the bundles were carried back on balanced double ended sticks, threshing machines dealt to the bundles and then they were laid out on blue tarps to dry, before being meshed. There was also drying of chillies happening.

Different varieties of rice being sold at the market

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