By Features Desk
VIENTIANE - To be born and grow up near a river is wonderful because the river can be both your plaything and also your livelihood.
Living in a rural area means a lack of fun places to go to like in a city such as restaurants, nightclubs, bars and shopping centres, but you can still have a great time during the weekends by having picnics by the river.
Especially now that the weather is so hot, it’s undoubtedly the best place to be, where there are beautiful surroundings and clean, natural water.
Last month, I went back home to Hadtha village in Keo-oudom district, Vientiane province, about 13 kilometres from the town of Thalath in Thoulakhom district.
It was really a wonderful time for me to be there as some of my friends had returned there from their farm for the weekend.
In the early morning, we went for a picnic just as we used to do with our parents when we were eight years old. But we didn’t take any food. We just brought some masks, fishing nets, forked sticks and something to cook with, knowing we could get our lunch from the river.
When I arrived at the river, I remembered the beach but while riding in the boat I could recall very little because the water was very low and a lot of things had changed. It wasn’t as I had envisaged it but the memories came flooding back after talking to my friends.
We took a boat on the Nam Lik for about an hour until we got to a place called Kang Kayang (Kachang Rapids) where there’s a good place for a picnic under a big tree. We collected some firewood to make a fire so we could grill some fish.
After just one hour or half an hour my friend brought some fish for me to grill. I asked him how he had caught them and he told me our friends had used their nets.
It seemed to be very easy to catch fish and fishing is something I love, so I joined them, wearing a mask and wielding a forked stick. The water was very clear but I couldn’t see many fish because I wasn’t very experienced and I couldn’t hold my breath for long enough under water. I was also a bit nervous about going into deep water. And then I realised that fishing wasn’t so easy for me any more.
While I was grilling the fish, I noticed that the two girls who had come with us had disappeared but then I spotted them on the other side of the river where they were picking some vegetables to eat with the fish. Some of my friends were collecting ant eggs so that we could add them to our fish soup.
When the fish were cooked we called all of our friends to eat together. We were eating and reminiscing about our childhood but some couldn’t stay for long because they were in a hurry to go fishing again.
I remember that the rivers used to be very picturesque and there were a lot more rocks, so I asked my friends what had happened. Some of them explained that we hadn’t been able to go that far and it wasn’t possible to go there any more because a hydropower dam was under construction.
The water is very low now, so it’s difficult to get there by boat and it’s also part of a conservation area. So they don’t allow anyone to go to that area.
A few years ago tourists used to visit this place to play in the water and take boat trips and they all said it was a beautiful place that not many people knew about yet, so it was a great place to set up camp and have a picnic.
But nowadays not many people come here, including the locals. However, it’s a great place for an outing because it has everything you need for a picnic and you can have fun with your friends or family. It made me feel that it was truly a paradise for humans.