AsiaLaosTat Lo

Lao Learning

Tat Lo Travel Blog

 › entry 80 of 115 › view all entries
Close to the top of a (really quite high) waterfall overlooking the area around Tat Lo.
I parked the bike up in Tat Lo, hauled off my helmet and heaved a sweaty sigh of relief. I'd completed my first solo motorbike trip without major incident and made it to Tim Guesthouse where I would be spending the night. Tat Lo is a small village that has reasonable backpacker facilities but not actually many backpackers: about 3 the night I stayed (low season obviously). Although two German guys had just arrived to take up residence nearby and teach computer skills to the local kids for the next 3 months. I found myself slightly envious of their opportunity to spend so long in a place like this. I shrugged the feeling off quickly; it wasn't the opportunity to teach here, rather it was the stability of staying in one place that had really attracted my envy.
Hotels by the river in Tat Lo.
I'd get my chance for that, but not yet.

I settled down with that old traveller favourite, a banana shake, and chatted away to the two new arrivals. Before I got too relaxed however I was collared by a small Lao man of about my age, who turned out to be the local English teacher. Not really such a coincidence as he works at Tim during the day and then teaches English classes in the evenings. His eyes lit up when I said that I was English, obviously scenting fresh blood for his students to get stuck into. He extracted a promise that I would help him in his class that evening and agreed to meet me in the village, near the main temple, at 7pm.

I arrived 5 minutes late and he had clearly been a little concerned that I wasn't going to show. I re-assured him that I was only tardy as I'd gotten a little lost in the dark.
Rapids/waterfalls next to Tat Lo.
He guided me to a large local house and we loped upstairs to teach a small gathering of five students - three girls of about 10-11 years old and two lads of about 6 or 7 years old. The teaching involved the kids listening to my accent and trying to point out correct letters, words and numbers chalked up on the blackboard.

They picked up my accent pretty well, struggling, as you would expect, with only some of the finer aural differences between English sounds: 'A' 'H' and 'eight' for example. This learning by rote went on for a couple of hours and the poor lads were clearly getting a bit tired and irritable. Meanwhile the more accomplished older girls were trying to talk to me in shy, somewhat stilted English phrases, coached by their enthusiastic teacher.

It wasn't until 9.45 that I was finally released from class with thanks, wais (the Buddhist, palms together, sign of respect) and wide Lao smiles. The young lads were clearly glad that the lesson was over but I more than forgave them; at their age I would have been stir crazy after half an hour of late night language learning. They had been very patient really.

I wandered back through the warm village night to my little wooden bungalow with a sense of having helped a bit. I was happy that I'd had the chance to spend some time with the locals and more pleased than ever that I had come on this little Lao biking odyssey. I tucked the mosquito net tight around the bed and lay down in the darkness. For a change, there was no tempest of fragmented thoughts whirling through my head to keep me awake. Instead, I fell asleep quickly, eager for the new day to come.        
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Close to the top of a (really quit…
Close to the top of a (really qui…
Hotels by the river in Tat Lo.
Hotels by the river in Tat Lo.
Rapids/waterfalls next to Tat Lo.
Rapids/waterfalls next to Tat Lo.
Tat Lo
photo by: xander_van_hoof