After a long (dusty and uncomfortable) bus journey, we arrived in Vientiane, capital city of Lao, where we were warmly welcomed by our hosts Pierre and Cathy, both teachers at the French School. So the next morning, after a lovely evening and a delicious breakfast, we went to school with them!
During 3 days, we played with 5 different classes (from 6 years old to 9-10 years old)! We discovered plenty of games!!! - At the “sardines” game, one player hides himself while the others are counting (until a predefined number). When they are finished, they have to find the hidden player. If one of them finds him, he has to stay quiet and stays with him. The looser is the last player who discover all other people! - For the “lunch box” game, you need a ball (or a lunch box???). One child is the wolf and the playing field is determined. At the beginning, all players are in the middle of the field, near the ball and the wolf. One player shoots the ball in order to send it as far as possible. The wolf has to take the ball and bring it back to its place. During that time all kids hide themselves. The wolf tries then to find the other players. If he finds someone, he has to touch the ball and says loudly who he saw and where (for example: I saw John behind the tree). If it is correct, the found player comes and sits next to the ball. To be delivered, the player needs to wait until one other player comes and touches the ball without being seen by the wolf. The game is finished when all players are prisoners. - Ngad Khay Tao (turtles ‘eggs): we draw (or define) a small circle on the ground (1,5m diameter). One child goes inside and the others put their right shoe in it. They have to take back their shoe without being touch by the turtle (the kid inside). If someone is touched by the turtle, then he takes its place and the turtle becomes a normal player (and put his right shoe inside). When everybody has his shoe back, the turtle counts until 20 and the children have to hide their shoe. Then the turtle has to find all shoes in a predetermined time! - Ban Khouk (or “Lao prisoner ball”) is a game with 2 teams and one ball. Players are divided in two teams like on the sketch: one team in the centre of the field, the other team divided in two, one part on each side of the field. The “external” team has the ball and has to touch the players from the “central” team. If one child is touched, he get out of the field. If a child catches the ball before it touches the ground, he wins a life: he can either use it for one player of his team who was out of the game and who now can play again or for himself: he will need to be touched twice to be eliminated. When there is only one player left on the central field, the team has 10 chances to touch him. If the players fail then, the central team wins the game! - In the « bull » game, all children are in circle and one is in the middle. The players from the circle have a ball and pass it to each other (with the hand or the foot). If the bull (the child inside the circle) catches the ball, the player who was passing the ball becomes the bull and the bull can enter the circle and play! - The “007” game is similar to “stone, paper, scissors”: 2 players are facing each other. They can either shoot, protect themselves or recharge their guns. Of course you can only shoot if your guns are charged. One player wins a point if he shoots and the other is charging his guns. The first player with 3 points is the winner. - For the flag game, 2 teams are facing each other and one flag (or ball or something) stands on each side of the playing field. The players have to “steal” the flag from the other team without being caught and when they have the flag, they have to bring it back on their side of the field. (if it is a ball, the players can send the balls to make the game more difficult) We spent 3 great days in this school. Our game collection is getting bigger and our smiles keep going to be spread out!!! But in Vientiane, there are unfortunately also some places which are not so smiling than a school. We visited the COPE Centre (Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Entreprise), which is an organism which tries to offer rehabilitation services to all physically injured people. Actually, Lao is the most bombarded country in the world, sad record! Officially Lao and the US never declared a war but Lao received more than 500000 American bombardments between 1964 and 1973 which represents 200 billion of tons of bombs. (Lao is on the Ho Chi Ming road, and as the US aircrafts couldn’t land if they were full, they “had to” leave their bombs on Lao). 30% of all these bombs have not exploded yet and it is the biggest issue nowadays. When a farmer is harvesting or doing some work on his land, a bomb can explode and the man can lose an arm, a leg, the sight, the life…. COPE tries to help this devastated population (because an injured man cannot support his family anymore) and does also some demining campaigns. These operations are dangerous, long, and expensive and it will need dozens and dozens of years until the country will be totally free from these hidden and dangerous unexploded bombs. That is also one the reason why a large part of the country is not exploited (nor by a farming field, nor by a plant, not by a village, neither by a road…) Once again, it is very painful to discover this part of History but it is also frustrating and revolting!!! Lao did not ask anything, was not in war and is the country with the most remaining consequences!!! At last but not least, Vientiane has also something else to offer: beautiful colonial constructions, good pastries and bakeries, even a triumph arch… It is a small town where it is nice to live!!!