I found the Lao people to be the most fascinating part of traveling through Laos. I was happily surprised to see how rich their culture was and how so many people were still living according to their old traditions.
Laos is NOT known as the land of smiles, but the people here are still so special, and very genuine in their own way.
Below are 5 things that sum up my experience with the Lao people – and just to make sure, these are not facts but my own perception and experience from spending 3 weeks there.
1. Men Are Very Homely
It was a very common sight to see men of all ages carrying around babies on their backs and in their arms, feeding them, hushing them to sleep and just general baby sitting – without the mother in sight.
They really took time with their kids and gave them attention, playing with them.
They also seemed very interested in other people’s kids, always toddling with the babies when sharing a songtheaw (bus á la tuk tuk style) ride.
2. The Kids Are The Most Adorable I’ve Ever Met
I’ve never met so many kids in a country who shyly whisper or loudly yell ‘hello’ to you from the street, river, moped or home.
They were so curious, and those who were brave enough – smiled, laughed and said hello to you over and over again until you were out of sight.
You cannot help but to smile and say hello back …
3. The Bus Drivers Have a Death Wish
When I mentioned the things I’ve learnt about Thai people someone asked why I didn’t mention the driving.
The Thai people are known for their careless driving, and the streets there were chaos, but at least the bus drivers had some common sense.
In Laos – they didn’t.
70 people in a 50 seat bus does not make sense, especially when you’re not using your breaks on the steep, windy mountain roads…
Chickens and roosters on the road? Who cares, they had it coming! Feathers were constantly sweeping past our windows … travel around Laos really isn’t for the faint-hearted!
4. They Want To Avoid Any And All Confrontation
It’s not the most obvious friendliness and they don’t take you in with open arms, they are more stand-offish. However, if you gain a little bit of trust, you will see that they’re actually very friendly people.
They are also, like the Thai people, afraid of confrontations.
Sometimes it’s really refreshing, other times it’s really frustrating, especially when you just want to get a straight answer to a question.
Their way of dealing with it is usually to laugh it off as a joke – which makes for a pretty funny and confusing situation. You might not get a straight answer, but you always leave with a confused smile on your face.
5. Women And Men Work Together
Usually women and men have their own places in which they work; but in Laos the roles are very mixed.
The men and women work together.
It’s not uncommon to see men standing in stalls cooking street food and banana pancakes, and women working the street as road workers.
Both women and men work on tea and coffee plantations, and they both take care of the family.
It seemed as though they did what they were best at, if the man cooked better food, he was the chef, and vice versa.
Have you been to Laos? Can you relate to my experience, and what did you learn about Lao people?