June 2008




I’ve decided to start adding some photos to this blog along with some commentary on what’s happening.

This photo is of a group of Lao youth acting as security guards for the Boat Racing Festival in Vientiane. They were all senior high school students and had to inspect bags and pat down anyone entering the festival.

The students were divided into gender groups. If you’re a woman you walk towards the female students who get to pat you down. If you’re a man it’s the boys that get to inspect you.

The system seemed to work pretty well as there weren’t large queues to get into the festival. They seemed to be pretty strict about inspecting everyone. This photo shows one Falang getting a particularly close look over. Everyone looks pretty smart in their uniforms.

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In the few months before leaving Laos I visited the Vientiane Shooting range quite a number of times. It was the first time I fired a gun and to my surprise I actually kind of liked it. Despite simulating the firing of guns for years by playing video games, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of firing a real gun.

I found this webpage by a 10 year old American girl who has a Lao father and a Thai mother. Her observations are quite interesting:

  • Thailand and Laos are almost the same.
  • A king rules Laos. (I’d really like to know more about the Lao Royal Family. I’ve heard some things of them dying after being sent to re-education camps but also that some relatives escaped to live in America.)
  • Half of Thailand belongs to Laos. (I heard a lot of Lao people say this)
  • During the Laos New Year people put sand in your mouth. (Is this true? I’m glad it never happened to me. I only saw people make sand Stupas/Castles during Lao New Year)
  • Most of the people in Laos are nice and some people are mean.
  • Laos is a poor country but it is beautiful. (How very true)

When I was travelling in Northern Laos our canoeing guide told me some excellent stories about Lao culture and history. One was about some king, who as a child had two rows of teeth. His father didn’t like him and threw him the river. A monster found the child and “owned him”. The child became really strong and married the daughter of a neighbouring King to his father. He eventually became a King and conquered his father’s kingdom.

Our guide also told us that he has a dog that he keeps with his sister. His sister owns 7 cats and one day the dog bit and killed one of her cats. She was really upset and angry but he promised to buy her a new one. He usually only gets to go back to his home town once a year to see his sister and dog. When he returns his dog usually growls at him but after a few days he starts to remember him and relaxes. Our guide hopes to work a couple more years until he gets enough money to retire, by which time he’ll be in his early 30s. It was nice to hear about his future aspirations to retire and “do nothing” back in his home town.

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