The land of million smiles

I was in Luang Prabhang, the old capital of Lao. It was a cool December afternoon. I sat there in a temple, writing some thing in my note book. I fell asleep. I woke up hearing some voices. I opened my eyes, I saw a bunch of kids around me. As I sat up, they moved back a bit, and stared at me. It was like the Gulliver's Travel...all those little people, perhaps half scared, half curious. I turned to the last page in my notebook, and from my Laotian phrase book, I copied "hello" in Laotian script. I passed the page to the kid right in front of me. She took it, and read it aloud. There were a round of giggles. She borrowed my pen and wrote something in Laotian. I took back the notebook and I guessed it was her name. Next, I passed my book to the "littlest" kid. Everyone started laughing as she was too young to write. Someone else took the book and wrote the littlest kid's name. So we conversed, they would draw something, say it aloud in Laotian and and ask me to repeat it. I learnt some many new Laotian words. Lately, I seem to be forgetting the words. I think it is time, I go back.


Lao is one of the most bombed country in the history of warfare. During the Vietnam war, the North Vietnamese supply routes used to run through Laos. US warplanes used to drop their bombs all across eastern Lao. Thirty years on, the Lao people have found an interesting use for the bomb casings. They cut them open, fill them up with soil and grow flowers in them.
In Lao people always seem to be smiling. They use to call Lao the land of million elephants. I named it "the land of million smiles."