A day we’d been looking forward to, with a long walk through villages and jungle.
Our first stop was a visit to a Lantan village. These are highland people. The houses were not on stilts, unlike the other villages we’d seen. The women wore black, decorated with brilliant pink, and shaved off their eyebrows (except for the children and crones).
black and pink
(I really need to remember that there are situations in which it pays to increase the f-stop.)
Next stop, a massive flight of steps – puff, wheeze, puff – taking us to a stupa that was demolished by US bombing and recently rebuilt.
I have no idea what plant that is, but it’s definitely pink and dramatic.
And then…the jungle walk, lead by local guide and accompanied by women carrying our lunch. Our guide cut bamboo walking poles for us – very welcome on the uneven terrain – and pointed out all sorts of interesting stuff.
– leaves tasting of tart apple
– cardamom leaves
– citrus-smelling leaves that are good for headaches
– bark that treats diarrhoea
– vine fruit, used for red dye
– strangler figs
– ants nests in trees
He also cut small, flexible sections of bamboo and fashioned a flute – which Paul managed to bring home – and a whistle for calling barking deer.
Our lunch was mostly pre-cooked: rice, vegetables, meat for everyone else, omelette. The highlight was fish that was put on bamboo spits, secured in a split bamboo pole and then cooked over a fire. We were reliably informed that it was delicious.
mama’s little baby loves shortening, shortening…
kissing over the coals
Our plates were banana leaves, and the food was served in banana leaf dishes that were folded and secured with splinters of bamboo.
banana leaf dishes and a bamboo flute
After lunch we carried on walking through the jungle, reaching a river where ALL the butterflies had congregated, then another village, and finally back to the hotel.
— words & pictures by Elizabeth