This is writng from and email I sent to friends and family January 7 2007
So far we've been in Laos which is an amazingly cool country. I never thought I would have seen so many monks! We have a tour guide that has taken us to many temples with tons of Buddhas and they are not fat Buddhas in Laos they are different then what you might have thought. We took a cool long looking boat on the Mekong river that serves as a border to many Asian countries to little villages and a cave the other day. We got to go to a school and the kids there were sooo cute. Mathew in our group has curly blond hair and to them that is very foreign so I started pulling it and having it bounce and the kids got a huge kick out of that. Everything is soooo cheap here. I have eaten most of my meals for 2 dollars. And I usually don't like Asian food but they have had really unique stuff that has tasted really good. In Laos they are known for there sticky sticky rice that is sooo tasty. In all the temples we've visited there are always monks. There are two types of monks, novices and just monks. the novices are usually young and they don't know if they are going to go into that life permanently. They follow 10 rules that are similar to the Ten Commandments. The monks follow about 200 rules that are crazy specific! The monks learn all day many different subjects including English so I have had the opportunity to talk to some. The first monk I talked to, his name was Sam which I asked him in Lao because I had just learned some phrases and words from our tour guide. I told him that I was from Texas and he said he knew of Austin! They learn mostly about the world from reading and watching tv, which was a little surprising. He was really nice and let me take his picture. The next novice I talked to, I was just walking by where he lived and I said hi and how are you and he looked curious so I started talking to him more. He spoke very good English so I learned that he and some of the other novices that were standing around were 16 years old. He asked what I was studying at school and I told him music and business. So he asked me to sing. I thought, hey when do you get to sing for a monk? so I sang a bit of a Mozart aria. They all got a huge kick out of it. I drew tons of other monks of the building because I have a loud voice. Then when I finished they all started to laugh and try and shreek loudly like an opera singer. It was soo funny! I'm sure they've never heard opera before. Let's see other things we have done were walk to the beautiful waterfall in a gorgeous village outside of Laung Prabang. We took tons of pictures and even got to swim in the falls. Tomorrow we leave early in the morning for Vietnam. It's so sad to say buy to such a lovely country. Ok well those are my highlights so far. I'll try to hit up an Internet cafe in Vietnam with more updates.