In Laos, we visited my father’s side of the family. The Hmong villages in the countryside of Laos were more well off than those in Thailand (probably since Hmong people have been there longer overall than in Thailand). See my post about Thailand here if you missed it. The Hmong homes in Laos were cement and there were even tile flooring in some homes! The very poor still lived in huts with thatched roofs but the majority had more stable homes. Running water was available even though it was only cold water and they had outhouses!
On the other hand, the food was more weird and varied… with some things that even makes ME cringe, and I RARELY ever cringe at food. While we were eating at a little street restaurant, 2 kids came by to beg for money, a boy and his sister, probably both around 8-10 years old. Our relatives told us not to give the kids money and told us that their parents were both opium addicts and that any money they collect are given to the parents to buy opium. We gave them food instead. It was so sad! Opium addiction is so common in the Hmong here in SE Asia. I even saw an elderly lady probably in her 80’s lying across the dirt road; I thought she was dead! But my cousin told me that she is just unconscious from too much opium and should be getting up soon to continue on going home… They instructed us to just walk around her.
We bathed in the river and slept on the floor. There was mosquito netting hung over the placemats to prevent bites while we slept. It was weird trying to fall asleep to the chirping of crickets and distant barkings of stray dogs.
Again, as mentioned in my Thailand post, everywhere I go, one of my main interest is the children. In one of the pictures below is a little boy with a basket full of sticks which he cut up himself to sell at the supermarket so he can buy candy for him and his brothers. And yes, those are some foot long knives in their hands… People would be calling CPS if it was America. But these kids are so mature and resourceful.
I really wanted to visit Vientiane and see some city aspects of Laos but our stay in the village was extended when my uncle decided he wanted to kill a water buffalo and throw a village feast… So bye-bye to the town and hello to more river bathing. I did enjoy seeing how the Hmong residents lived… and as always when visiting areas such as this, it opens my eyes to the things I take for granted like toilet paper, soap, band-aids, toothpaste, and especially air conditioning. I can’t imagine living without air conditioning….I’d never wish that on anyone.