Laos……………

Having travelled quite extensively in Thailand and Vietnam and to a lesser extent in Cambodia, it becomes immediately obvious on entering Laos, that it is a poor relation to these other southeast Asian countries; this difference is perhaps more pronounced crossing from Thailand as I did, where the infrastructure of the country is far more advanced………….The quality of the roads in Laos are not as good and unlike Thailand they do not have any rubbish collection system, so you notice a lot of garbage strewn by the side of many roads in this beautiful country………………….

Laos is home to only 7 million people (approx.)  but despite having such a relatively small population, a third of them live below the official UN poverty line, which is defined by those living on less than US $ 1.25 per day (75p)………..there are many different ethnic groups including a lot of Vietnamese that have migrated across the country’s eastern border with Vietnam……………..

The Vietnamese in Laos are immediately recognisable by their hats, which are worn universally by all Vietnamese, almost like some kind of symbolic badge of national identification……..

Frogs for sale in a roadside market…………

I watched her selling some and she sells them by weight, making sure that none of them are jumping in the air at the time of reading the scale…………..

……….a few stalls along, and some cooked ones, on a stick………..I’d rather have a raspberry mivi……………..

above and below…………….another of the waterfalls that we visited………….

These girls were flagging down all vehicles……………..they were collecting for the building of a new temple for their village…………..

 

above and below………….the ancient temples of Vatphu; constructed of stone and of Khmer architecture, they bear a resemblance to the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia………although not as vast and impressive as Angkor Wat, I found visiting them a lot more satisfying because they were free of the thousands of tourists that seem to be omnipresent at the vast complex in Cambodia…………

 

above and below…………more waterfalls, and although the many falls that we visited were not on the Mekong, with the exception of the falls at Khone Phapheng on my previous posting, they were all very beautiful and spectacular in their own right…………..

 

above and below ………….families from 2 different ethnic groups in their traditional costumes……………………

Children learn to mimic at such a young age………..the 2 young girls above have obviously been watching the ridiculous poses that teenage girls in Laos (and Thailand) strike in an attempt to look provocative in photographs………….

above and below…………….no such posing issues here………….

I saw this wonderful bamboo growing by the side of the road and immediately wanted to build a business empire making furniture from it……………..

On one of the large islands on the Mekong that we visited, Yada noticed a little, one room school…………so naturally, being a school teacher and speaking Lao, she had to go in and have a chat with the teacher, who, like all the kids was wonderfully friendly and laughing and smiling……………until I took my camera from my pocket, when, like most people in this region, they all put on their “passport photo” faces

 

Yada and our tour guide buying some fruit at the roadside…………..

…………from this Vietnamese lady…………..

Buddha ………….between the roots of two old trees………..

above and below…………in the grounds of an old temple by the side of the Mekong

Huge Buddha at another temple………..note the diminutive red shirted figure in the foreground…………………

Above and below…………..a small shop in Pakse is run by a charity for the survivors of human trafficking and their families……………they have 2 looms in the shop where they weave beautiful scarves and other garments from silk and wool; and where they also teach survivors and underprivileged youngsters how to weave…………..if any of you are ever in Pakse please support this wonderful enterprise…………… Dream Weaver is their label….

 

Below…………..we happened to be in Laos for Songkran (Lao New Year) which is the biggest festival of the year in Laos; officially 3 days, the first being the last day of the old year,  the second being “the day of no day” falling into neither the old or new year, and the last day being the first day of the new year……………traditionally celebrated by the respectful pouring of water (usually perfumed with fresh flowers) over elders and monks for the blessing of a long and healthy life, before escalating into a manic free-for-all throwing of water over anyone you can……….

above and below…………….a lot of the youngsters in Laos, like these ones celebrating in Pakse, have modernised the throwing of water by using shaving foam, flour and apparently, whipped cream !! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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