Laos live…

Yep, it has been a while we didn’t give any news. No that’s not because we didn’t feel like giving any, but because there is too much to see/do/experience. On one hand this makes we never get to writing (ok, lame excuse) and on the other hand there’s so much to write about that we simply cannot make a choice (ok, even lamer excuse…). Therefore maybe a small snapshot of experiences so far in Laos. Laos live.

First of all we must talk about local transport. Being on a budget we have no other choice than taking local transport, which has been fine in all other countries we visited, but in Laos it is a little bit of another story. If a bus journey is indicated as “8 hours” better count on approx. 12 as this “official” (or maybe better: “commercial”) estimation doesn’t include at least 2 flat tires, at least 1 exploded one, overheated brakes that need to be cooled down by pouring water over them, or other breakdowns that don’t spare any mechanical part of the bus (thank god they don’t have any electronics in them yet!!!). And don’t think it is smarter to take the boat: we have had boat trips that took 11 hours instead of 6 because of 3 broken propellors, 1 broken rudder and then some parts of walking in between as the water levels were too shallow and the boat got stuck (twice!). It is all part of the adventure (of course!) but after a few hours (when you don’t feel your behind anymore due to the wooden benches) it all gets a little bit less funny… ;-)

A second thing we would like to share with you are Lao local habits. We had the luck to be invited to a mariage party which was quite an experience. Basically anybody can join in as long as he/she brings a present (preferably alcohol which is what we did following a local friend’s advice). Then at the actual “party” you most of the time don’t even get to see the “happy couple” but get hushed onto a table where some Lao “friends” are already waiting for you with Laobeer and Lao-Lao (homebrewn Lao ricewine). And then the main activity of the party starts: drinking until you cannot stand anymore. Tradition wants it that there is only one (1) glass for the complete table (independant of the number of people) in which one person serves beer for the others. The trick is to drink fast, because the others are waiting for the “one and only glass” also! ;-) In the meanwhile somebody elso comes by (or better: “staggers by”) offering Lao-Lao which is almost impossible to refuse. Luckily for us, the person serving the Lao-Lao is most of the time so drunk already (he gets to drink most as he drinks a glass of Lao-Lao with the one he serves, making it a popular “job” at a wedding but also a temporary one, as after approx. one hour the “Lao-Lao server” needs to be replaced due to a general state of unconsciousness) that you can get away with just taking a sip and then pouring the rest under the table before giving back the glass that (attention!) serves the whole party! So far to the chapter “being sick”. ;-)

Another typical part of the wedding party is the dancing. When in Europe we can go to dance whenever we feel like it, maybe with the only constraint that “the happy couple” must have opened the first dance, in Laos this isn’t possible. No, no, no! One needs to wait for each song until somebody has been officially asked to open the dance. The result is that there is usually a complete “organisation team” that manages the different dancers, the different songs and the waiting list (it is very popular to open a dance at least once on an evening). Once the dance is opened, everybody can join in. Of course we had to open one dance also, much to the hilarity of the locals “hihi, the falang (foreigners) dancing” but this then made us the “stars” of the evening, being invited to dance all the time (which was actually quite a good technique to get away from the Lao-Lao man…). ;-)

Vera & Jean-Christophe


  1. Posted January 27, 2008 at 11:10 | Permalink

    Dans les pays que vous avez traversés depuis août dernier, vous avez à plusieurs reprises évoqué cet abrutissement par l’alcool, c’est impressionnant. Cela existe certes partout, mais avez-vous l’impression que c’est plus développé là que dans les autres (nombreux) pays que vous avez traversés au cours des dernières années ?

  2. Posted January 27, 2008 at 13:02 | Permalink

    C’est toujours surprenant de prendre les transports en commun dans certains pays. Je me suis souvent demandé comment pouvaient encore fonctionner des cars ou des embarcations n’en pouvant plus. Ce sont des artistes pour réparer avec les moyens du bord, mais il vaut mieux fermer les yeux pour la sécurité!!!
    Surprenant aussi pour le mariage. Quel genre de danses était-ce? Avez-vous fait la une du journal local le lendemain?
    Bonne continuation.

  3. Vera
    Posted January 29, 2008 at 13:48 | Permalink

    @Ivana: On pense qu’il y a de l’alcool dans tous les pays (pas plus pas moins). Apres c’est juste plus ou moins bien caches. La il faut dire qu’on etait dans un cadre “familial” ou ca coule, certes, mais en dehors de ca, l’abus d’alcool n’est pas trop visible. On ne voit que rarement des gens saoules dans la rue par exemple.
    Par contre dans la plupart des pays asiatiques il y a un avertissement general pour la conduite de nuit qui peut etre dangereuse due a des conducteurs “pleins”.

  4. Vera
    Posted January 29, 2008 at 13:50 | Permalink

    @Jean-Daniel: Au minimum la une du journal! ;-)
    Sinon pour les danses, c’est quand meme tres traditionnel: les filles et les garcons bien dans un ordre precis et tout le monde se bouge de la meme facon.