A short tour around a small town.


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Dec 11, 2006
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None of these are particularly great 'pictures' but thay are very indicative of things I saw that really piqued my interest as being soooo different from my world.

We had gotten into a reasonably sized town in Northern Laos. It had changed markedly since I had been there 7 years before and some of the landmarks I remembered were gone. It was an active Lao town but, compared to anything in the West, it was the developing world. More small guesthouses, even a bank and atms but the streets were still mostly dirt or pebbles over tar.

The town was Luang Nam Tha and was near a very large nature preserve and just a few miles from China, 4 hours by bus from the Thai border and about 12 hours, also bus, from Viet nam. The entry to Vietnam is near Dien Bien Phu. DBP is a landmark for a French tourists because the defeat of teh French there represents the tide turning against colonialism in SE Asia.

There are ~8,000 kip to the dollar so 2.2 lbs of laundry done for $1.75

There are strange contrast; some cars, some buses and trucks, then water buffalos pulling carts and people carrying loads - the same as for the last 1000 years - except wearing rubber flip-flops.


Children seem to be adored and cared for and handled by everyone. The children are generally sweet and charming and friendly and beautiful.


This is a picture from 2007 and I was showing an Akha woman a collage of my grandchildren. She called other women over to see. Western children are very rare in Laos today and in 2007 even more so..
In a strange twist, this woman and her sisters are still selling trinkets - and pot and hash and opium - in that same town and I saw them.


These diesel donkey engines are everywhere, pulling implements or loads or actually built into erectorset-like trucks.


Just as we in Western languages often spell Asian names in different ways because of the difficulty in translating sounds we don't use into our spelling, the Lao have some trouble with English words.


Any town that big enough to have tourists is large by Lao standards and thus has a large market to serve people from surrounding villages.



Food is difficult to identify and I tend to stick to things that are cooked while I watch.


I do make an exception for baked foods and Laos seems to have inherited the taste for pastries from the French because the pastries are excellent and Lao coffee is superb, very strong but served with sweetened condensed milk.


Entire families - and a bag of stuff - fit on the small motorcycles.


There isn't a country or people that I like and enjoy more than the Lao. I will carry the memories from there forever.
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Food is difficult to identify and I tend to stick to things that are cooked while I watch.

:lol: Tends to be the case with most Asian food!

Very interesting photos, thanks for posting. Love the commentary.
Here is where the town is located - essentially far, far away.

22 hours to Bangkok (with stop in Dubai and plane change.)
2 hours flight to Chiang Rai, Thailand
8 elapsed hours total by bus to Luang Namtha, Laos

12 hours time difference.

Love the explanations and that diesel donkey. That is a very primitive but highly creative build.

Do they like Westerners?
Do they like their picture taken?
Are they interested in cameras?

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Those diesel engines are all over SEA in different shapes and on different implements.

"Do they like Westerners?" They are Buddhists and seem neutrally friendly to non-Lao.
"Do they like their picture taken?"
"Are they interested in cameras?"
No one likes to be objectified from behind a lens and so I have adapted a behavior of not leading with the camera. Children are ubiquitous and I look at the children, make friends with them, 'ask' the parent if I can take a picture, show the parent the picture, allow the parent to take a picture and so on.
There are many cell phones so they understand pictures but a more complex camera is often a mysterious attractive object.
Some of the minority tribes, especially the Akha are animists and really don't want their picture taken.
Sometimes that requires long bartering but I never push.
These are Akha women dressed to meet the bus in case there are tourists that will buy something. The various tribes of the Akha people are nomadic and great traders across SEA. That is my travel buddy who is ~ 6'1" so you can see the Akha women are quite small.

If this kind of anecdote picture tour is of interest, I can post another one or two as I have time.

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