A few hours from Houei Say (Thai Border), we will stop and visit the ethnic village, Ban Gon Dturn.
At this point in the Mekong there are a number of shallow rapids, the
Lao words for which (Gon Dturn) give their meaning to the villages
name. The inhabitants are Tai Lue tribes people, who
originally came from the Yunnan area of China around 300 years ago,
fleeing persecution. They can now be found in the northern Lao
provinces of Bokeo, Luang Nam Tha, Phongsaly, Luang Prabang and
Sayabouly. The Tai Lue traditionally live in the valleys and low, flat
lands. There are 180 households in this village, encompassing 850
Houses in a Tai Lue village are traditionally on stilts,
and the ground under the houses is used to store tools, firewood and
weaving. Upstairs consists of a large balcony which is used as a living
room and guest bedroom. The inside of the house is not divided into
smaller rooms, but remains as one large dormitory style sleeping
quarters, with an area for cooking in one corner. The houses have small
windows and a twin-peaked roof. They face the river as this is
considered to be good luck.
Agriculture forms the main occupation of the men in the village,
whether tending rice fields or planting other crops. Produce not
required for village consumption is sold to merchants who pass by on
the river. Tai Lue women specialise in weaving, much of the cotton and indigo dyes they use being cultivated in the village itself. Silk is imported from other provinces. They too sell their cloth to the passing boat traders.
It is also the womans responsibility to look after the family. Nearby
villages in the region trade products with each other and communicate
news, through regular visits.
wear blue or black clothing, and a scarf on their head. Their bodies
are often covered with tattoos. These important designs are for
personal protection from spirits and natural afflictions and are
considered very manly and attractive to Tai Lue women. The women wear a
Lao style sinh, or long skirt, usually made by the women who wear them.
Note: In periods of low water levels, we may change to another village which has easier access for our boats.