Banning the Cluster Bomb

A farmer in Sepon, Laos, stands in his field, which he cleared of ordnance by himself. He said he found many munitions. The small banana behind him grows in a bomb crater. An international treaty banning the cluster bomb takes effect today. Cluster bombs are large weapons that hold up to several hundred small explosives…Continue readingBanning the Cluster Bomb

Food for Thought

Rosi digs tomato sauce. (Albuquerque, New Mexico) Just a few random shots for your Friday pleasure. Have a great weekend! Would you like ketchup with that? (Mae Salong, Thailand) Cat with frying rice cakes. (Luang Prabang morning market, Laos.)Continue readingFood for Thought

Grilled Beef Wrapped in Wild Betel

I got a yen for wild betel in Vieng Xay, in a laid-back local market that sold an assortment of lunch pickings—sticky rice, sour bamboo, tangy dollops of jaeow, spicy little meatballs and grilled buffalo (above, middle, left of the balls) that had been mixed with onions and spices, wrapped in betel leaves and grilled…Continue readingGrilled Beef Wrapped in Wild Betel

This Garden Is the Bomb

A villager named Haum waters her onions, growing in an American cluster bomb casing in Kunpho, Laos. Laotians everywhere have turned war scrap into useful tools. The large metal casings from cluster munitions can sell for upwards of $40—a near fortune to many rural villagers. But some gardeners prefer to keep the casings, turning them…Continue readingThis Garden Is the Bomb

OMG! So Cute. Little Girls with Soup.

Several girls mix individual bowls of noodle soup at the Sam Neua morning market in Laos. Greetings from the American Southwest. Jerry and I are home to a house that looks much the same. The herb garden grows again, the pomegranates bloom. And we fight the remnants of jet lag while leaping back into stateside…Continue readingOMG! So Cute. Little Girls with Soup.

PIG STORIES: The Spiritual Pork

A few weeks ago, Jerry and I had the remarkable opportunity to witness an animist ceremony honoring the forest gods in a northern Lao village. Read the story in The Faster Times, and take a photographic scroll through that afternoon here. The villagers sacrificed a pig, offered bits of it to the spirits and divvied…Continue readingPIG STORIES: The Spiritual Pork

Remembering Manophet

Manophet, April 2010 Folks, we arrived in Bangkok to the saddest news. In addition to the violence outside, we have just learned that our dear friend and guide, Manophet, died in Laos yesterday of an apparent blood clot to the brain. Manophet lived in Phonsavanh, near the Plain of Jars. He was taken to Vientiane…Continue readingRemembering Manophet

Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner

A while back, I posted my account of eating for nine days in the northern Lao village of Sophoon. That was an example of what comes to the dinner table when the hosts know they have guests to feed. A few days ago, we trekked to the Hmong village of Ban Pakeo, several hours on…Continue readingGuess Who’s Coming for Dinner

PIG STORIES: Free-Range Porkers in a Little Lao Village

A pig wanders freely through Sophoon, Laos. What do Lao villagers think about free-range vs. industrial farming? Find out in The Faster Times. This is the first in a three-part series on the lives and deaths of Asian pigs. I wanted to add a P.S. here. While the article focuses on pigs, some of the…Continue readingPIG STORIES: Free-Range Porkers in a Little Lao Village

Lao Sour

En route to Boualapha recently, we stopped for a light roadside lunch of sour pickled fish (som paa) and sour pickled pork (som muu), both of which had been grilled in banana leaves. Each little packet opened to the most potent pate-like wedges (white fish, pink pork) with a firm consistency and an incredibly sour…Continue readingLao Sour