I was sitting outside Luang Prabang's anachronistic "Nordic bakery", my watercolour kit spread on the table, colouring the day's sketches. A little girl showed up with her box of trinkets to sell. She saw me drawing and went right for my sketchbook. She grabbed a brush and her eyes asked: "Yes?" I pushed the colours towards her and gave her a pen in addition. She immediately, avidly began to draw a woman in Lao dress, which she then coloured. Another girl arrived and joined in. Here they were, side by side, filling my sketchbook with women carrying flowers, farm animals, a flag on what looks like a tank (!) and a whole village on stilts. Their names were Hnu and Wantida. Hnu is a cheeky, quick girl and though her English was weak and she was smaller, she was the decision-maker. Wantida was more reserved and quiet but her English and drawing skills were better. When Wantida finished a drawing Hnu would enthusiastically volunteer to help her colour it. Wantida graciously let her friend spoil her lineart, giving me a small long-suffering smile.
The trinket-bearing boxes waited forgotten for over an hour. The encounter was one of the highlights of my trip.


A penny for your thoughts!