Kel: All I can say is WOW. We've just had the most amazing experience staying with a local Laos village for the night. It's a small community of about 40 families, lots of smiling children, randy roosters and very shy but welcoming people. We got to the village early evening after a long bus journey from Vientiene and started playing with the kids (prob about 30-40 5-10 year olds) straight away . They were so excited. We were the first village stay for them this year and it was pretty obvious they thought we were funny looking aliens. We had a really nice time playing badminton en masse (with hands instead of rackets) and were treated to a lovely home meal. In the evening we tried to speak Laos to the young teens who started to appear and kind of managed it through a few nervous giggles ... esp with the help of glossy pictures in my lonely planet guide. It was amazing to watch them with a book of colour pictures of their country. They were absolutely fascinated. Electricity is precious so we were all off to bed by about 9.30. We slept on the living room floor next to a mother hen + chicks in a box! At first about 5-6 teens wanted to just stare at us (even with lights off!) but eventually everyone went home and kind of setttled down (apart from roosters who must have started at about 2am) Early start at 6am. The whole village prob gets up about 5am to start husking rice, collecting wood and generally getting on with life in daylight. They work so so hard - especially the women - hard hard graft. One of their rules is that you can't marry into village families so by about 16 the boys have to start travelling to other villages to find a wife. Women (girls) marry between the ages of 16-20 and are expected to have 5+ children. Anything less is poor. So they become adults pretty quickly really. Scary eh. We said our goodbyes and took off for the Vietnam border. It was definitely a highlight of the trip for everyone so far.