On a warm Laos evening, Christmas eve in Vientiane was livened up by twelve high-spirited travellers, one Intrepid group leader and two trainee leaders. Intrepid’s Nicki Gibson was amongst the fun as people stopped and stared and even took photos of the crazy mob complete with Santa hats…
“The hats suddenly appeared from the backpacks of two travellers, who wanted to ensure that the Christmas spirit didn’t escape their Intrepid group in South East Asia. Locals smiled and looked slightly puzzled when we strolled through the city on our way to a not-so-traditional Christmas eve meal.
Leaving Vientiane on Christmas morning, our bus was decorated by the group – looking like a cross between Santa’s sleigh and the disco car on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai! Mr Ky, our local guide, wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, but he joined in the celebrations and was left smiling when the group presented him with a Santa hat too. With Christmas carol sing-alongs and enjoying the fun of sharing ‘Secret Santa’ gifts on the bus, we made our way to the village of Hin Boun, where we would enjoy a most memorable 25th of December, 2007.
The group had clubbed together to buy some gifts for the children of the village, but with so many children, Mr Ky directed us to the school. The teachers explained to the bemused kids what these weird looking people were up to and in a chorus of delight they said thank you! In a line in front of the children, the Intrepid Santas sang out verses of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, then threw our hats into the air for the children to catch. As we sang more songs and played games, the smiles on the faces of the children said it all. For the group, this Christmas day was made special by the true meaning of Christmas ‘giving’.
And as if Christmas couldn’t have got any better… following a sunset cruise down the Theun River in a B52 fuel casing, we climbed the steps to see fairy lights hanging from the trees and a table set outside for dinner. After the table was laid with many dishes, Mr Ky walked out with a roast turkey in one hand and large carving knife in his other hand! The group was overwhelmed by this Christmas gift from group leader Matt Ford. We sat and enjoyed a fabulous
dinner of Laos food with an Intrepid Christmas twist.
That evening as we bedded down under the mosquito nets, not a whisper could be heard. The tired Intrepid Indochina Loop group slept soundly, knowing that our day was a success and the Christmas spirit had been spread on our exciting journey!”