Laos #4

My family's also Viet-Lao and I've always noticed those little "remarks" on the differences of Viet-Lao people to the "original" Vietnamese people. Especially in the kitchen - the taste and the flavour of the Viet-Lao kitchen is much more to my taste, because it's like at home to me, therefore whenever I eat in Vietnam I kind of miss some flavour in it.
This is just one little example of how I experienced the differences between those very similar folks of people. This was my starting point, following into a question: What makes them different? Is it only a mixture of two cultures, the Vietnamese and the Laotian or is there some kind of development of a new culture?

As a first try I visited Laos to see, to watch and to observe. What is it like? be a Viet-Lao? This clip might me a first little approach to an answer - who knows.

Thanks to my very generous, hospitable and kind-hearted family in Paksé.
Thanks for letting me stay with you and do what I do. Being interested and observing. :)


Laos #2

Mộ - grave

My mother's family is originally from Vietnam. Naturally. We're all Vietnamese though.
But there was a time where a lot of Vietnamese people fled to Laos, looking for work. That's why Laos has a lot of Vietnamese people living there and with time they kind of »mixed« the cultures. So, that's how the term »Viet Lao« was created. (or developed)

Anyway, when we got to Paksé, my mom already told me, that we have to go to the »Mộ« for visiting and paying our respects to our ancestors and also to look after their graves.
Look after their graves?! What should this supposed to mean? 

At the time we got there, I understood right away.

This cemetery didn't look like those we know from here. It was all a mess. I couldn't recognize a system of graves, all the graves were just every which way. And even the graves themselves, they didn't look neat. There were grasses and weeds everywhere, on the grave, but also next to the grave.
It was a Vietnamese cemetery, I guess. Laotian people usually »burry« their ancestors differently.

My mom and I naturally didn't know where it was, but our relative did, so he found it quickly.
We brought incense sticks and fresh fruits with us for offering them to our ancestors. 

It's kind of a ritual, which is pretty common in the Vietnamese culture 
- offering food to our ancestors in the spirit world. 
(I find it a pretty nice thought.)

So, little plates were prepared with different kind of exotic fruits and put our incense sticks there after praying.  Also, we took care of the condition of the graves a little, that means, we were weeding and cleaning a little so that everything looks neat again.

We met two older men. They were the »gardener«. Two people for this big cemetery. Of course everything couldn't look perfect like the cemeteries we know from here.
We gave them a little bit money and asked them nicely if they could look after the graves of our ancestors. That money was more like a tip. They earn money from the city for working there, but our tip was more like a »thank you«.

That was quite an experience for me. I've never been to a Vietnamese cemetery before and I found this ritual kind of nice, offering them food and looking after their »current place«.
I was told that in the beginning or March, there's even a holiday, where people gather at the cemetery and have a feast. They're celebrating their ancestors, offering them food, but enjoying themselves too. What a nice holiday, isn't it? To memento our ancestors, we throw a big feast with everyone. So nice.

Mộ Mộ Mộ Mộ Mộ Mộ Mộ

Laos #1

As a few of you maybe saw on Instagram, I was in Laos, visiting the hometown of my Mom.
Paksé is in the South of Laos, close to the border to Thailand.  The city has a population of about 88'000 people and is therefore the third biggest city in Laos.

We had a really long, long trip. We flew from Zurich to Abu Dhabi and from there to Bangkok. There, we had a little stay until we flew with a cheap airline to Ubon, to the border.
We passed through the customs without any problems, but we were still not in Paksé. (but finally in Laos, yaaay!)
So, we got into a little grey van, which drove us from the border to the city Paksé. (the driver said so.) It seemed quite strange to me, because we're not used travelling with inofficial "drivers". Anyway, we got a pretty good price and he drove us right in front of the frontdoor of our far related relatives.

Zurich - Abu Dhabi - Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani - Paksé

The market is like "the place", because that's where people earn their living. The average Laotian is doing "sales and business".
Buying clothes in Thailand and bringing them back and sell them at the market or in a little store, cooking their homemade food or mixing their drinks and bringing them to the market to sell, growing vegetables and fruits, sewing clothes or the like, you find everything at the market!
That's where the "life"'s going on. It's entertaining for us Westerns, but it's also very fascinating. Negotiation about prices, eating while selling, doing their make up while waiting for customers or just sitting around and enjoying the sun.
There's literally everything to buy ...regarding food I mean.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs, fresh homemade food to eat directly at the stall or for taking home, fresh fish and even fresh meat. (which they butcher directly there)

little anectode: As I was wandering around I got into this one hall. Every hall has it's theme. There's a vegetable hall, fruit hall, eating stalls hall and also a meat hall. And one second to the other I stood there, in the middle of hundreds of tables with meat. Raw meat. Women were standing at the tables, selling meat, but also butchering meat. Flies were flying around. Meat was hanging everywhere. It was quite an experience... (if you really want to know what I mean, look at this picture. but attention, if you can't handle seeing raw meat and else, don't click on the link.)

I like the market's atmosphere.
The market is crowdy, loud, fun and very colourful. like. really colourful.
see yourself.

Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Laos market Laos market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market Paksé Market

2015 - a review

2015. What a year.
a year full of good moments, sad and happy times, full of struggle and reliefs, new experiences, new acquaintances and most of all a year full of love.

a year full of love, yes.
a year full of wonderful and beautiful moments.

Yet, another year has passed. Again!
May the new year bring you a lot of happiness, friendship and love.

_DSC0633 2015-03-24 15.28.48 2015-03-20 12.06.23-2 2015-05-07 01.20.58 MN15_20150403_DSF5955 MN15_20150131_DSF5647 MN15_20150409_DSF6038 MN15_20150410MN15_20150410_DSF6233 MN15_20150218IMG_1169 2015-09-20 16.47.08-1 MN15_20150703_DSC6653 2015-02-26 12.37.26-2 2015-08-29 17.49.50 2015-05-18 18.53.25 _DSF6658 MN15_20151112__DSF6777 2015-08-15 16.32.47-1 2015-08-23 18.28.51