Volunteering at Bamboo Lounge Training Restaurant was an amazing experience, an unique way to get in touch with the local day to day life in Luang Namtha and to make a difference while traveling the world. Although most of the staff can’t really maintain long conversations in English yet, we felt welcome and had great laughs together since day one.
We visited nearby villages from where some of them come from, observed their language and their joyful way of treating each others, and witnessed the great differences between their traditional life style, organized around and in accord with the growing and harvesting of countless rice fields that surrounds Luang Namtha, and the life in a small town that is expanding and changing due to tourism opportunities.
Our main activities were to teach and practice English with all the staff, which you must be wondering how was even possible if they don’t speak much English and we speak even less Lao, but turned out to be quite simple and fun. Bamboo Lounge Training Restaurant has an easy to follow curriculum that allows anybody to teach and learn basic conversation and restaurant related vocabulary.
It starts by showing them pictures and naming objects and actions repeatedly, and once that is covered you start to ask them to name real objects around the restaurant and the actions you catch them performing everyday. With repetition, a little bit of patience from both sides and lots of gestures, communication suddenly becomes not only possible, but relaxed and enjoyable. What really makes it work is the staff interest and persistence, and the fact that the learning process happens not only in classes, but in day to day activities.
But that’s not all you’re gonna do while volunteering at Bamboo Lounge. Our tasks also included writing boards with special promotions, helping Koly, the restaurant manager, with the computer and printer, cleaning doubts of customer accents, learning how to cook (and being able to eat!) delicious wood-fired pizzas, and even some odd jobs like carrying the broken washing machine to where it would be fixed.
Everyday is a new day and we deeply enjoyed all the few ones we spent in Luang Namtha in the company of Bamboo Lounge Training Restaurant staff. Thank you once again for having us and treating us so kindly. We’ll always remember you!