It was just after dinner, shortly before sunset when we set off over the lake with our blankets, biscuits, boom-box and straw mats.
We are marking the school holidays by going on a camping trip. The location is still close to Baan Unrak, just 5 minutes by boat, across the lake to a spot of land that is normally under water, but given the dry season that is upon us this year, we can use this land as our own private island.
Our first action is to jump straight into the water, to cool down our bodies and even wash our hair. We brought swim rings so we leisurely bob around on the water together, taking it in turns to sit in the rings, allowing our legs, head and arms to dangle, before someone overthrows the ring and claims it! Our laughter, whistles, cheerful voices and music can be heard by the nearby villagers and Didi, who is just finishing meditation with the boys at the top of the hill.
Now, for the 15 of us is time to set up camp.
Some girls take the opportunity to practice their photographic skills, using our volunteer Laura’s phone. The output is remarkable!
Other girls sit around chatting and nibbling biscuits. Others are singing songs together, laughing when they forget the words and teasing each others dance moves. It is nearly a full moon evening.
Aye Moe has the bright idea of using a tin to light the fire in, so we can control the spread. As the sun sets, it is such a treat to have a fire.
It is a sleepover like no other. We sing Baba Nam Kevalam, appreciative that we can spend this precious time outdoors in the nature, while many of our friends around the world are inside their homes.
As the times goes on, we drift off to sleep, guided towards our dreams by the sound of crickets and cicadas, the water lapping gently, the vague noise from the villagers in the distance and our own whispers. It is a strange sensation, falling asleep outside, it’s colder than in our rooms, but we don’t mind, it is a welcome reprieve from the heat of the day!
It’s 6am and we slowly begin to stir. We form a circle, still sleepy-eyed and begin to softly sing Baba Nam Kevalam.
We feel the first rays of the day gently caress our faces as we meditate.
A quick snack of biscuits, and some of us are off into the water for a quick swim while others braid their hair. We are glad to have the fire now, as the fresh morning air is cooler when we get out of the water!
Then, we depart back to Baan Unrak for our breakfast, some of us sitting on the boat, others dragged along on our beloved goats’ floating house.