The friendly south

Now people have been very friendly all over Laos, always smiling despite a simple and often poor life, and they always seem to be in for a joke with (or especially about!) some falang. :-) But it seemed that the more south we came, the friendlier the people got (yes even more friendly!). We don’t know why, but we have some theories…

A Buddha production lineOur first theory is based on the town of Savannakhet. It’s a little town in the south, not of too much interest (although there are some nice colonial houses to be seen and we had the luck to see the first-hand production of some Buddhas, which was especially nice because we got some “insight explanations” from a few English-speaking monks) but that is definitely worth a stop to meet its friendly people and laid-back atmosphere. And we think they are actually so friendly and happy to see us, because they don’t get to see a lot of foreigners.

As an example, let’s have a look at the kids’ behavior. Now we are used to children yelling “Sabaidi! Sabaidi!” (Hello! Hello!) from very far and waving their hands, but in Savannakhet they go one step further: not only would they greet by yelling and screaming, but they would run to us and shake our hands (like falang do which is of course “very cool” ;-) . So sometimes we were taken hostage for about 5 minutes by a group of kids, because we had to shake everybody’s hands at least once (more if possible!). :-)

A second theory that might explain why people are just so friendly and happy all the time is because they live in the most beautiful and most relaxing place on earth. :-) Further south of Savannakhet, at Si Phan Don (Lao for “4000 Islands”) it might be just that. Imagine some islands in the middle of the Mekong (which is actually blue here, all the sludge been washed out), about 35 degrees and as a daily occupation you do some fishing or maybe you have a look at some tourists doing the tour of the island by bike and you think: “What are they doing? It’s 35 degrees and they are doing 45 km on a crappy rented bike? Ouf!” ;-)

Playing games with local kidsOr maybe you are a kid living here, supposed to be at school, but tempted to go into the water to refresh your feet. Which is even more fun when there are some foreigners around to make fun of, search shells with or doing a competition of stone jumping…

We think it is not very difficult to be happy and friendly in Laos and there are a lot of reasons to be smiling all the time. :-)

Vera & Jean-Christophe


  1. ivaberthon
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 15:27 | Permalink

    Vous dites explanations from monks : Ils servent de guides ? (d’où leur connaissance de l’anglais) ou ils travaillent la sculpture ? ou… il y en a partout partout partout ? :-) … Ce que semblent dire vos photos d’ailleurs. Quel statut ont-ils dans leur pays ?

  2. Posted February 12, 2008 at 11:02 | Permalink

    Les moines sont comme tu dis “partout, partout, partout”. Donc des fois, oui ils servent de guide (quand ils parlent suffisament d’anglais) volontaire. En general ils sont assez ouverts, surtout dans les zones moins touristiques. Souvent ils viennent nous parler a leur propre initiative pour pratiquer leur anglais. C’est marrant. :-)
    Sinon ils ont un statut de moine (je sais pas comment le dire autrement): ils peuvent voyager gratuitement, ils font les bonzes le matin tres tot et les femmes ont une interdiction de les toucher ou de s’asseoir sur le meme banc qu’eux.


  3. ivaberthon
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 17:57 | Permalink

    Très intéressant. Merci. Encore une question : de quoi vivent-ils ? De dons ? De leur travail ? (cf celui qui sculptait le bois) ? Est-ce une façon d’échapper à la pauvreté ? Est-ce un choix individuel de vocation ou les parents décident ? Tu n’as peut-être pas le droit de leur adresser la parole en tant que femme… Mais Jean-Christophe si ! il a meme joué au ping pong avec …. :-) Visiblement ils ont aussi le droit de se faire photographier, même par les femmes :-)

  4. Posted February 12, 2008 at 19:11 | Permalink

    Coucou, je serais ravie de pouvoir vous transmettre mes gros bisous et mes remerciements pour les merveilleux voyages que vous me permettez de faire de mon fauteuil!Profitez au mieux. Quelle extraordinaire expérience. Merci de tout coeur. Françoise Valence.