6. January 2018 20:01
by Rene Pallesen

Vang Vieng Countryside - Laos

6. January 2018 20:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

On the first day in Vang Vieng we hired a local guide to take us through the country side and some o
On the first day in Vang Vieng we hired a local guide to take us through the country side and some of the villages around Vang Vieng.

Hiking through the countryside in Laos is partly magical and at the same time an eye opener. It is not until you get into the country side that you get a glimse of the real Laos and its people, the way of living and their beliefs.

Walking into the first village a group of boys came walking towards us. One of the kids was holding his head with blood dripping down his face. The other boys were taking him home to his parents. I couldn't help but notice that there was a green substance smeared across the wound and asked our guide is he knew what it was. He went over to some bushes and plucked a couple of leaves and said that if you crush them then they will help stop the bleeding. This is when you realise that a lot of the plants in the villages serve a purpose as natural herbal medicine or for eating.

The village was a HMong village and at one of the houses we spotted the little girl above standing in a door opening with her grand mother. There are very few of the traditional bamboo shacks still standing and instead being replaced with brick buildings.

A bit further up the road we heard a sound. Someone was hitting a gong and chanting. Thinking it might be a monk we went to investigate. The sound was coming from one of the local houses. At the back of the house the family was in the process of preparing food, but we couldn't see where the sound was coming from. Our guide asked them and was told that they had a newborn (possibly sick) child and that the Shaman was in the house talking to the 'other world to' attract the good spirits and chase the evil spirits away.

As we walked on we could see him through the opening of the door and I snapped the above photo which is one of my favourite photos of the trip.

In the village people go about their normal life such as this woman removing lice from her daughters hair.

As we walked on we had to walk through the local school. It happened to be recess and the kids in the smaller classes were outside playing.

There was a small stand selling them lunches who also sold lollies, so Kim got the idea to spoil the kids with lollies - but also turned out to be a great opportunity for our kids to interact and see what a classroom in Laos looks like.

The area is still very un-developed. Although there seems to be electricity, this is mainly used for lighting. Cooking is still done by collecting wood and done on wood fired stoves and people still wash their clothes in the rivers and streams.

Although there are still a number of water buffaloes these are mainly used for eating along with any other non-human living animal - such as pigs, dogs, birds etc.

It was very healthy for the boys to see where their food 'potentially' comes from and understand that this is part of life.

The area is full of rice paddies, but these are now worked with mechanical tools rather than buffaloes.

The government has built bridges across the large river to allow access to the villages.

But the smaller streams have bamboo bridges - in this case wide enough to drive a motorbike across, others just a single bamboo to allow a person walk across.

At the far village (Lao and not Hmong) there was a limestone cliff with a small cave in it. This was called elephant cave and inside there was a small shrine along with some bizarre images.

The whole area is spectacular - I can only imagine what it would be like during rice planting season - yes it would be muddy but also stunningly beautiful.

During this whole hike we saw no other travelers. Other than at the cave we didn't get a sense that there frequently came any groups through and I think the feedback from all of us was that this was one of the highlights of the trip - no adrenaline required.
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