I was at Ban Na Keun (Ang Nam Ngum) in December 2003. I met a little Laos family and I always remember the hospitality that they gave me during my one-night stay here. This time, we were battling if we should come back. Finally, we did, and I am glad we did.

This Laos family consists of a father, a mother, who are in their 30s, two daughters and a son. The father speaks little English, and the rest of the family members speak less than little. So, our communication were mainly based on ‘single words plus sign language’.

The family rented a small piece of land next to the lake, and they built a shelter for their home and a noodle shop, where I think their main source of income – selling soup noodle. The family seems having some progress since I met them in 2003. The father bought a swangthaew (a passenger pick up), and he runs it two times a day between Thalat and Ban Na Keun. They are now also having a little store next to the noodle soup selling shirts and bags and of course drinks and snacks. Their 2 daughters have grown up now, both help up in the shop.

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Alex and I love their noodle soup. It was heavily modified based on our vegetarian constrain. We spent an evening ‘chatting’ with the father, and we got a fair understanding of their cost of living in a little village like this. He pays 980,000 kips (US$98) per year for 90 sq meters of land. We assume it is the land own by a private person. On top of it, he also pay tax 130,000 kips (US$13) to the government. The second-hand swangthaew (a small baht  bus) he bought cost 1300,000 kips (US$130), he needs 3 years to pay off.

A bowl of soup noodle they sell costs 5000 kips (US$0.50).

The family extented their hospitality to Alex, they were very happy to see us.

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Jing

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