Waking up very still and under a roof this morning, felt quite different. We have been used to swinging constantly under a dodgy hammock tarp. We woke up at the usual time between 6:30-7am and we encouraged to pull our sore bodies up out of bed and start packing our bags for the day ahead.
Group by group we got onto the boats that were 10cm from sinking and made our way down the river for an hour until we arrived at a village.
When we arrived in the village we all took our shoes and socks off in a sign of respect before entering a villagers home and went up stairs and gathered around a religious looking plant display with hundreds of cotton strands hanging off the branches. We gathered in a circle around the tree and the village chief started praying. We all had to touch elbows which then made a chain to the people touching the religious plant. Once most of the prayers were over, for our surprise all the adult villagers started pulling the cotton threads off the tree. One by one they came up to each of us and blessed the thread with good luck and tied it around our wrists. We ended up with at least 20 each and we are not allowed to take them off for 3 days or the good luck will escape. After the ceremony was over we all sat on the floor and had a feast of rice, fish, egg and chilli sauce was prepared for us. It was the most amazing feeling. Sitting amongst these villagers, getting blessed good luck from them and eating lunch with them made us feel so special.
After we finished our meal we sadly had to quickly leave for a 1 and a half hour bus ride to the village we started at. But the thing is... it wasn’t a normal bus ride we were used to. We were put on a back of a Ute (Ed. pickup truck for the Brits out there) with a cage surrounding us, and little did we know we were in for the most bumpy and sickening ride of all time. When we all felt the car pulling up after a terrible trip, it was the biggest relief knowing our bus ride was over hahahaha.
We were now at the village we started at and then we knew ... ALL THE WALKING WAS OVER! It was one of the biggest relief’s this whole trip :)
For some (Mr. P) the trek was all over, but for everyone else, especially Charlee and myself, the best bit was still to come. We were all handed a ticket TO GO FOR A ELEPHANT RIDE !?!?!?
We got into our pairs and all hoped on an elephant pair by pair. Just waiting in line we hear the laughs and giggles from others getting onto the elephants and finding out what it is really like.
It was an amazing experience riding on the elephants through the beautiful village, rice fields and around the village. Smiles were on everyone’s faces as we enjoyed every minute of the hour and a half on the elephants.
No words can explain how much I have been inspired. Whether it be John Tucker and the children at NHCC or it be all the challenges in the group, everyone has shown me patience, language, culture respects and enjoyment for everything that’s given to you. I know I will come home, not as a different person on the outside but a different person on the inside on how I see everything. I don’t regret this trip one bit and its starting to get depressing knowing only a few days left, but more excited than ever to come back home. :)