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LaosLaos

Traditional Hmong New Year, with Heels

This week, the Hmong in Laos, one of the country's larger ethnic groups, are celebrating their New Year Festival.  The festival, which, in Luang Prabang, takes place in a wooded area near a major road, is a great opportunity for young Hmong to find a mate.  Most people come ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Lao Medical Advice

The Lao have interesting beliefs about how certain actions will affect your health and well being.  Some examples I've heard:   Eating burnt bread will give you cancer.  Drinking cold water will give you a sore throat.  Wearing long sleeves in the heat will actually keep you cooler.  Drinking beer ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

What's it to You?

The way greetings are expressed here is something you have to get used to.  At first, I found if them to be quite annoying, but now I find them endearing. Many standard greetings are actually questions about your day's activities that might seem like none of the asker's ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Between the Sheets

Relationship rules and cues in Laos are often baffling to me. There are a lot of practices that have taken some getting used to. Girls have a very specific role that seems demeaning to me, but I don't think Lao people really see it that way. When out at ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Multiculturalism at it's Best

Multiculturalism is a good thing, right?  Luang Prabang is known for its mix of cultures: its Lao and French architecture, its Buddhism and spirit worship, its traditional practices in a modernizing city.  But, after a year of life here, I've noticed these convergences pop up in funny places and ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Set the river on fire.

This year was the first time I experienced Bun Awk Phansa, and I'm happy to report it's now my favorite festival in Laos.  The new year celebration in April is terribly fun, but even more so, exhausting.  It officially lasts 4 days, but in reality it's a ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Happy Birday to Me.

As this coming Saturday is my birthday, I think it's appropriate to share my observations about birthdays in Laos.  Here goes: No one seems to really know how old they are.  This is so common that whenever I ask someone's age (which I don't believe is frequently ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Paper, Glue, and Bamboo

On Monday, Lao will celebrate Bun Awk Phansa, which marks the end of Buddhist lent, coinciding with the rainy season.  Townspeople and monks alike have spent the week preparing for the festival, by making paper lanterns and "fire boats" which will be paraded down the street, and represent each village ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Scratch the Surface

I’ve known Phone for 9 months, and would say I’ve been close to him for about 5 of those months.  He always told me his family was poor, but I never quite knew how poor until this past weekend, when he invited me to visit his home.   His ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

Races in New Places

A few weeks ago, the annual boat racing festival in Luang Prabang took place.  Many larger villages in Laos have their own boat racing festivals that are scattered throughout August and September, but I only attended a couple.  The one in Luang Prabang is certainly the largest in the province ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

One BeerLao, Please. With Ice.

Two years ago, when planning a 9-week trip to Southeast Asia, Luang Prabang was not much more than a circled name in my Lonely Planet guidebook.  In early 2008, after traveling for a month in Thailand, I entered Laos for the first time.  I spent a few days in the ... read more

Gabriel Shaya

LaosLaos

The Luddites' Last Stand (Don Det, Laos, Around Day 100)

The Internet and Traveling - A Struggling Outpost - I am a Trojan Horse - The Development Debate - Zeus's Fury - Escape to Cambodia!  The internet is a mixed blessing for travelers.  The internet connects travelers like never before, allowing us to research travel information instantly, trade tips with others, find accommodation, book ... read more

Mark Ayling

LaosLaos

Would You Like to Eat Some Beetles? (Savannaket, Laos, Late April)

Punk Rock Kids in Laos - Buses and Beetles - Savannaket - Fury from Olympus The gray buildings of Vientiane disappeared and the bus descended from the mountains of the north into the wide, green plains of southern Laos.  We followed the Mekong south past small villages and farms.  Water buffalos bathed nearby ... read more

Mark Ayling

LaosLaos

The Slow Boat to China (Vientiane, Laos)

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Mark Ayling

LaosLaos

Ain't Gonna Work on the Organic Farm No More (Vang Vieng, Laos, Mid April)

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Mark Ayling

LaosLaos

The Local Experience, Lao New Year (Luang Prabang, Laos, Mid-April)

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Mark Ayling

LaosLaos

American Bombs (Early April, Luang Nam Tha, Laos)

  At the crossroads – Trekking – Development Challenges – Luang Nam Tha – Laos’ Future, Past and Present – American Bombs I crossed the Mekong at dawn.  Instantly I felt the subtle differences between Thailand and Laos.  The pace of life was slow in Laos: the border guards had not yet stumbled into work when ... read more

Mark Ayling

LaosLaos

Mo' Money Mo' Problems

I got yelled at yesterday by a swarm of tribal ladies in a village in northern Laos called Muang Sing. They were genuinely concerned that I was sitting peacefully drinking coffee and reading without my newborn baby in sight. It was when I burst in to hysterical fits of laughter ... read more

Rachel Holan

LaosLaos

Sunny Little Paradise

Last night the electricity went out over the entire town of Vang Vieng while I was eating dinner with friends. The waitress walked over using the light from her iPhone to bring us candles, assuring us that this happens all the time, and it should be back on in half ... read more

Rachel Holan

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