“I always thought of Laos as the place that time forgot,” a woman said to me just after we had been there in 2007, only a few years after the country had introduced a national currency for the first time.
Without a currency, the entire world of consumables was out of everyday grasp; even commonplace things like ballpoint pens and notebooks were not available. Instead, teachers made their own chalk to write lessons onto chalkboards, and the students learned by rote.
Even by 2007 there were still many people without access to the currency, and the old methods of making things by hand and drying them to allow them to keep without refrigeration (no currency = no refrigerators) were still part of life in that magical country. Here are some more patterns created by drying in Laos.
drying bean ‘cakes’
bananas laid out to dry
With very little tourist infrastructure, we found ourselves ‘stuck’ in Luang Prabang for ten days, waiting for a way out. I couldn’t imagine a better place to be ‘stuck’ for ten days! One of the many things we did there was to take a Laos cooking class at the Three Elephants Café, which is where we learned not only about cooking but the way of life in Laos. Here is the post about this experience.