28 NOTES OF A JOURNEY ON
breeze which was sweeping a watery rustling sound out of the bamboos and coconut palms.
salas being small, the people of the village ran up in half an hour one
of their bamboo lean-to shelters for the men, but the Laos as usual
seemed to prefer lighting a fire and lying out in the open round it in
their cloaks, there being always one man sitting up on watch and
supplying fuel when necessary.
Ngob is in a narrow hollow, which I should not care to visit in hot
weather, for the wind hardly gets into the place. We had nearly a whole
day's rest here. A mule caravan of Haws came in from the north and
rendered the otherwise peaceful air hideous with their loud, hoarse
talking. But for them a Laos village is singularly quiet; no sounds but
the quack, quack of the fat ducks who share the pools in the stream
with a few laughing children, the grunts of a family of pigs, the
occasional trumpet of an elephant who has been up to some playful game
or other of which the master does not approve, and the steady thump,
thump of the small foot rice mills, which the women work apparently
from morn till night.
sunrise, as the sonorous chant rises from the wat, these mills are at
work too, and often the last thing at night one hears them still. Mr.
McCarthy has described them, but I may just mention that they consist
of a piece of tree-trunk hollowed into a funnel-shape, into which the
rice is put, and a long lever worked at the outer end by the foot, the
woman stepping on and off, fitted with a hammer-head of wood, of which
several of different sizes are used. And while the mother works her
loom close by, the two daughters will work the mill and chat and chaff
readings for the last four days, 52°, 55°, 57°, 58° Fahr. The maximum
in one of these salas is generally about 82° for this month at 2 to 3
p.m. The winds were now south-westerly, very strong, with bright fierce
sun, but cumuli lying on the higher peaks after 4 p.m.., sometimes a
slight shower falling from them.
mile north-west from M. Ngob, the Nam Nan, here known as the Nam Ngob
(and actually the people did not know that it was the same river as the
Nam Nan below), runs over shallow pebble beds, where we forded to the
west side. This day's march is a very good example of the kind of
travelling to be done. The tracks over
* The river evidently takes its rise from Doi Luang (a large hill mass south of M. Hongsawadi), 19° 35' N., 101° 21' E.