On the road in Laos #1

 Hi! After some fairly erratic posting, I’m back in Melbourne and the blogging is resuming to its usual schedule. Did I actually tell you what the purpose of my trip was? Through my work on the Fair Fashion show with Boby Vosinthavong these past few years I met the founder/owner of Mulberries, namely Boby’s mother, Kommaly Chanthavong. Kommaly has done so much for the Lao people and environment that she really deserves a whole blog just to herself, but for the moment, you can find out a bit more here. I wanted to meet villagers and develop products for a new project, so I organised to travel with Kommaly through Laos.
As soon as she picked me up from the airport in Vientiane, the Lao capital, Kommaly announced that we were leaving for Udomxai the next day! She certainly doesn’t waste time! These photos are from a little expedition that we did on the first afternoon there, just to give you a peek at a typical Lao Lum village.
Two things that you are guaranteed to find – kids and puppies.

The other thing you are fairly sure of finding is a loom…

 … and of course a village elder who knows all there is to know about cotton, from growing her own to spinning it…

… to dyeing the yarn and weaving it into extraordinarily intricate designs.

The houses look something like this. Usually made from wood, sometimes woven rattan, sometimes with tin roofs. There are a few concrete ones springing up and touches of modernity here and there (not sure if you can see the satellite dish out the front, it’s a bit camouflaged)…
And of course these days, motorbikes and tuk-tuks are often parked out the front…

… although at the house we visited, they had a “cage” for their bikes under the house, right next to the sleeping platform…

In fact just about everything worth mentioning seems to be under the house.
The women gather there to chat and work on weaving, embroidery or whatever it is that they can do in between looking after crops and doing other domestic chores, and there are always animals like chickens, ducks, dogs and pigs running around too. Sorry there is not much crafty stuff in this post, the textiles above are really all they had to show us and all seemed to be the work of the one venerable matriarch! More crafts from different ethnic groups around Laos in the next few posts…

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