Tag Archives: luang namtha

Spirits of the Forest

18 Jun

Lichens form webs of green, pink and orange on the bark of a tropical tree. Nam Ha protected area, Luang Namtha, Northern Laos.

Tropical lichens spin their symbiotic web on a mature tree.

The sheer complexity of the ecosystem in protected, mature forest, from lichens spinning their symbiotic webs across old bark to the chaos wild pigs wreak on stands of giant bamboo, gives you a whole new perspective on the world and your infinitesimal place within it.

And when your guides are animists, who whole-heartedly believe in the spirits of the forest, the experience is deeper. When hiking in Europe you might lay a stone upon a cairn, as a good luck sign and mark of your travels. In the Nam Ha protected region of northern Laos you lay an offering of leaves at a sacred place. Continue reading

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The Good Life?

18 Jun

Four year old Hmong girl holds a handbag, Luang Namtha province, Northern Laos.

The handbag is for pleasure. The bracelet for good health.

This is Sing’s eldest daughter, showing off her handbag outside the house her father built.

Her name means “Be Loved”. Be Loved’s younger sister is called “Be Happy” and the baby’s name means “General”. Appropriately since, like many youngest children, she isn’t shy about asserting her needs.

Sing chose his daughters’ names before he was married — late for Laos, at twenty-eight. His wife and he were working in business administration in Vientiane, the capital, when mutual friends set them up on a blind date. On their second date, five years ago, they married.

Their eldest is four and a bit. You do the maths. Continue reading

On Books

15 Jun

Back in Udomxay, the construction town in northern Laos where our two-day odyssey from Vietnam reached a natural close, we met a crazy Canadian chap with an Irish accent and a Beer Lao can seemingly stapled twixt thumb and forefinger. Not so much met as, perhaps, attracted.

Charming chap. Pushing 70. Thoroughly pickled 24-7. And found in me, yikes, a kindred spirit.

Having travelled extensively with his own nipper, when the boy (now my age) was eight (roughly junior’s age), he had uncharitable things to say about my backpack. Particularly, the size thereof.

Now, to a degree, I second that emotion. Although, in our defense, I will say that I have only one pack, which goes on my back, rather than the “pregnant” two-pack look (one front, one back) so popular among our Nordic friends. Continue reading