Jul 27, 2010

Hmong House

The Hmong guy Lao Bii, was Tui’s friend, they knew each other from when Tui’d been to Nambo before.

I'm going  to apologise in advance for anything I get wrong. I don't know much about the Hmong. I've met and talked to plenty in Thailand, China, and America, but I really don't know much about the way they live in the more traditional setting of rural Laos.

At first we waited for Lao Bii in the yard, he was out hunting birds like all guys do at the end of the day. With seemingly every guy in the village out looking for birds every afternoon you have to wonder how there are any birds left. But there are, and there always have been.

When Tui's friend returned we went inside. After setting our packs down, slipping off our boots and donning flip flops, we went to off find people I’d taken photos of two years before. I always try to hand out a copy of a photo to anyone I take a picture of.

We also stopped in and said hi to the soldiers stationed in the village, and Tui showed them some sort of documentation authenticating my permission to be gallivanting about.. Since my last visit the government sent fourteen soldiers including two political officers and a teacher to live in the village.

Jul 7, 2010

Eating insects in the Lao PDR

The video begins with a guy named Sangtong waving his net back and forth over a wheat field catching grasshoppers (dakadaeng) in a rice field. Santong comes from Ban Tat Luang which is just out past the famous stupa of that name. His wife dips them in boiling water to kill and clean them then fries them in the wok and sells them.

The next shot is of women digging in the earth for maeng jute jill or as I less delicately call them “maeng kii kwai” (buffalo dung beetles). The voice over and the scientists go on to explain that 40% of children in Laos are malnourished, or I think that’s what sahmhua means.

The last series of scenes are an interview with a woman who is growing wingless crickets (maeng jii law) and regular crickets (maeng jii nai) I think the wingless version is just the imature stage of the cricket. The woman in the clip started out with 3 barrels but is now up to 56, quite a little growing operation. Now she’s trying to grow grasshoppers commercially.

There is one shot of a woman cooking up bamboo shoot soup with crickets, a very common use of the insect that can be found in restaurant stands all over the country. Lastly some folks that have had a few beers eating deep fried crickets with beer which is kind of yummy. Guy says they taste like meat, which of course they are.

Jul 3, 2010

The Trail to Nambo

Tui makes a last phone call while still within range of phone tower.

The trail to Nambo is a relative superhighway. It is by far the most gradual and fastest trail for hundreds of square miles. Using the cut of the the Nam Long through the mountains the trail steadily gains elevation while never resorting to switchbacks or steep sections. I've walked the trail twice, once back in 06 and more recently in the winter of 09. The trail provides easy access to the upper drainage of the Nam Fa. The trail is also used by all the Lao Sung as a quick access to the market at Muang Long. Bear in mind that tiny market is the biggest one in north western Laos beyond Muang Sing, and Burma across the river is even less traveled, it's a long way upriver to China or down to Thailand.

In 06 I saw the tracks of a single motorcycle made at the beginning of the dry season. I think it was a rider from that GT Riders club out of Chang Mai Thailand. They would of had to have pushed and drug the bike up and down many of the numerous stream crossings. None of the villages have motorcycles or other transport. I assume it was an off road bike, one of the last to have made the transect to Viengphouka. A few years ago there were temporary bridges strong enough to drive on with one of those one cylinder Chinese tractor things. The bridges were made by felling two large logs across the streams and covering the logs with branches and then mud and dirt. The logs have rotted away and are gone. Now there are small single slippery logs strong enough to support a person. I'd think it would more time and effort now to drag and carry a motorcycle up and down the many stream crossings than to just walk.
Stream Crossing