Nalae district is located in Luang Namtha province, in the North of Laos. I particularly like this area since it is surrounded by mountains, rain forest and is home to a range of different ethnic groups.
The Austrian Red Cross works in Luang Namtha since 2011, especially in the remote villages, supporting the Lao Red Cross (LRC) in projects on water, sanitation and health promotion.
Today I am on the way to Nalae with some of the local Lao Red Cross staff: the project coordinator, the Watsan coordinator, a health officer and the driver. Our task is to select 4 new villages out of 6 for the implementation of our project concerning water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH).
The road to Nalae is not finished. This means, that after 2 hours of driving on a muddy, bumpy road, we have to stop and wait until the part of the street ahead of us is finished so we can pass. That’s when I discover that I am really hungry. Not a good time!
Fortunately we are not far from a village. I remember that, when we passed it, there was a little hut, where you could buy some drinks and snacks. So I walk back. Ok, I am really hungry and those small packages of chips won’t do it! Finally I find a package of Chinese noodle soup and try to explain to the shop owner in my broken Lao, that I would like to buy the soup, but I also would need hot water and a bowl to eat it. I believed I explained it well, but he seems to be confused. Probably no one before asked him to do that.
So we wait ten minutes. Since I am still there after 10 minutes he seems to understand that I am serious. He asks me again in Lao if he should make the soup for me and I agree and feel really relieved, because I think I mentioned already that I was really hungry! All of a sudden he is really happy and seems proud to host me. While I am eating, some children and an old lady come from the village to watch me. We do some small talk, but then I have to head back to the car in order not to miss the departure.
After one hour the big machines had dug a road for us and a little convoy of cars is able to pass.