|Usually, we'd have to walk 8 feet to get to the stream's bottom; Huay Yang Hom post-overnight rains.|
On Monday morning, I was waiting for the rain to slow down so that I could bike to work, when my landlord Meh Kam came over to ask if I saw the naam tuam (flood) at a family's house near Huay Yang Hom (Yang Hom Stream). Umbrellas in hand, Meh Kam and I walked four houses down towards what was once a low-lying stream last week, but had become a river flowing in full force. Mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and toddlers sat on a nearby patio, as a crowd of village men grouped around a tunnel that transfers water downstream. With shovels and machetes in their hands, the men started hacking at the bamboo shoots, branches, and mud-caked wads of grass clogging the tunnel's entrance. Meh Bpeeng, one of my neighbors, joked that I should grab a shovel to help the men with the tunnel. As I quickly picked up a nearby shovel, the women screamed, "NO, MAI CHAI, NO NO," and insisted that I take photos instead.
Five minutes of photo-taking passed, and my friend Pii Yang arrived to make sure that her parents Pah Piang and Meh Tarn were safe. While we watch the relief efforts together from under our umbrellas, Pii Yang explained that Huay Yang Hom rose overnight to the point where the stream overflowed into her parents' fish farm across the stream from their home, meaning that six months' worth of fish purchases and farm maintenance was floating downstream towards the Mekong River.
Me: Koh-tot Pii Yang, I know that your parents love the fish farm and you helped them to make the farm.
Pii Yang: Oh mai bpen rai (no worries) Sara, I think the fish very happy, now they get away!
Me: Umm you're not sad? I think the flood killed the fish already...
Pii Yang: No, no! Not dead, now fish very happy! Now they escape and be happy in Laos!
Surprised by how optimistic Pii Yang was about the fish's livelihood, I laughed along with her under the rain. Twenty minutes later, the village men cleared the last of the debris from the stream's tunnel and patted each other's backs for a job well done. Pah Piang flashed a winning smile at me from under his pink umbrella and exclaimed, "Set leeo!" (Finished already!) I'm sure the fish are just as happy.
|The village men start to clear branches, mud, and trash from the tunnel's entrance.|
|The village men use farming tools to clear the tunnel's entrance downstream.|
|One of the village members starts tossing bamboo shoots and branches out of the way, as others continue clearing the tunnel.|
|Pii Yang (blue umbrella) asks about the flood, while her father Pah Piang (pink umbrella) supervises.|
|Pii Yang's family fish farm above the stream after the fish escaped. Mai bpen rai, at least they're happy!|