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.