From Gasa Town to Man Le Village – this is how we roll. On a rocky trishaw ride for 15 Yuan in groups of 4. Hold on tight!
So, that was a form of transportation we don’t usually have the chance to ride on here in Singapore! Now, let’s talk FOOD. Most of us were not used to the spicy food there. However, there were a few who could take the heat. Meet Vidhya, one of our members with one of the highest level of spice tolerance!
Every day, a few selected Food I/Cs will head down to the market to get ingredients to cook for lunch and dinner. The tomato egg dish was one of everyone’s favourite. It was a must-have for almost every meal! Some of us even cooked it or ordered it when we were back in Singapore!
Some of the villagers offered us home-grown oranges as well. They appear to be green on the outside, but in fact, they taste really sweet! Fun fact: These oranges are used as part of the manufacturing for Fanta soft drinks! And thanks Rebecca for peeling oranges for us!
We also travelled, via trishaw, down to Gasa Town for a meal one day!
Bringing us back to the village… There were many dogs in the village. They have long fur and generally shorter legs than the average pets we see in Singapore. Some of them join us for meals too – waiting under the dining tables for somebody to offer them food. Meet Xiao Hei, a friendly dog which we affectionately call Jeff.
Besides being involved in operations (see “Operation Orion 2014 Went To China” post) and interacting with primary school children (see “Operation Orion 2014 Goes Back To Primary School” post), we also held dance practices whenever there was free time, to prepare for the Cultural Exchange Performance on our final night!
Meet Suezanne and Halim from Programs! Suezanne is our choreographer for the mass dance and the modern dance items, while Halim is the choreographer and performer for the solo Silat performance and also Suezanne’s assistant for teaching Orioners the mass dance!
While some of us were practicing for the ethnic song and dance performances, a village lady approached us with a music video player that looked very much like a laptop! She introduced us to a song that is extremely popular in China – Xiao Ping Guo (Little Apple); she had many different versions of it in her pink device! Here is Si Ling checking it out on a stool that village lady brought out for us!
So ever since we learnt about the song Xiao Ping Guo, it began to play in the village for the subsequent nights. The villagers set up a Karaoke Box and lights at the courtyard and asked us to sing and dance along with them! The villagers we so excited to teach us how to dance to Xiao Ping Guo, but most of the ladies were so camera shy!
We also use time in between work for bonding, mass clothes washing and getting to know our very hospitable hosts better!
Meet Aileen from Pubs! She is really good with kids and the girls just love her!
One of the major cultural exchange experience for the Orion girls was the donning of the Dai Cultural Costume! The costumes are all painstakingly handmade over the course of at least a year! Some of the villages got their costumes done for their marriage. It was such a privilege for the Orion girls to get the chance to put them on – all with the help of the generous hosts. They even got their hair done!
Our team leaders also presented the plaque to the Village Chief as a small token of appreciation.
It was our last night in Man Le village. Some of us stayed up to talk; some of us who weren’t feeling well rested early; some of us took the night to drop letters of appreciation into each other’s letterbox.
Some of us just huddled together on the rooftop and admired the beautiful starry sky; and some of us just didn’t want to shut our eyes and miss anything from then till the moment we leave the village.