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Mekong Villages


Mekong River   |   villages   |   Pak Beng   |   etc.

August, 2004

Laos photo.
1. Gon Dturn Village
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Laos photo.
2. Waving for the tourists
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— Gon Dturn Village

We passed many small villages along the Mekong. Most villages contain 100-300 people, and are widely spaced along the river. You can tell when you are approaching a village, as the forests will give way to "dry" rice fields a few kilometers on each side of the village. We stopped at a village called Gon Dturn, which perches on a hillside just above the river (photo #1, at left). Our boat pulled up onto the river bank and we walked the gang-plank to shore. As usual, the kids (photo #2) are always most happy to see the tourists. Our passengers included a group of French tourists who handed out bright orange caps to some of the kids. They were a big hit.

Depending on who does the counting, there are about 130 different ethnic groups living in Laos. This is the result of centuries of warfare, with Laos at the center of powerful nations. People fleeing one conflict or another have ended up here in the mountains of Laos. The biggest group are the Tai peoples. They are lumped together (by the government) into three groups depending on the elevation at which they traditionally lived. The people of Gon Dturn are Lao Lu, or upland dwellers. They seemed happy to have us tramping through their village. In fact they came out to watch us with as much interest as we watched them.

Here are 15 more photos of Gon Dturn Village:




Laos photo.
3. Rice fields

 
— Index —

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— Ban Baw Village

The residents of Ban Baw Village are Lao Loum, or people of the lowlands. The fields behind the village were planted with "wet" rice in flooded paddy fields. At the time we visited the village, the morning mists were still rising from the surrounding hills, and the effect was really gorgeous (photo #3). We disembarked from our river boat with the assistance of a hand-held hand rail. This made it easier to negotiate the steep gangplank. It was particularly helpful when climbing back up with wet or muddy shoes.

This village had a more ornate temple than many of the others we saw along the river. The people came out to watch as we walked about. Jim was able to talk to one woman using his three words of Lao. Actually, our guide explained to her what he was trying to say. The people here continue to lead the same subsistence lifestyle of their ancestors. Modern technology is just starting to have its effects. Of course, the increasing numbers of tourists will soon change things. Here are some photos from Ban Baw Village.:

 

 

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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
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Created 8/2004. All text & photos are © 2004 Jim Richter.