Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 06:12
AsiaViews, Edition: 08/I/March/2004
Many travellers to Laos are surprised when they learn of the village custom preventing visiting couples from sleeping beside each other in a villager's house regardless of whether they are married or not. It is believed this would bring bad luck to the family. This is just one of many different customs of village life that await the traveller to the Dong Phou Vieng eco-tourism project in Savannakhet province.
The recently opened Dong Phou Vieng National Bio-diversity Conservation Area (NBCA) is situated on a plateau about 188km from the town of Savannakhet, in the eastern part of the province. Here tourists have the opportunity to see first-hand the ethnic minorities' way of life and to explore the endangered nature and a fast disappearing environment.
Here the jungle is full of hundreds of species of animals and plants. The traveller can see many kinds of animals and trees while trekking along the trails in this area.
"I joined a group of visitors to explore the Dong Phou Vieng last time and many tourists said they enjoyed experiencing nature and the culture here and the way the villagers use the forest to earn their living," said Ms Bounmy Khantivong, Chief of Savannakhet Tourism Authority.
The Authority has just opened new three-day trip to Dong Phou Vieng NBCA:
Day 1: Savannakhet to Vongsikeo Village
Vongsikeo is a village of the Katang ethnic group located in the forest where most of the people rely on farming. This group has its own language and traditional culture. Visitors experience the day-to-day life of the villagers such as learning to distinguish between married and unmarried women with their different styling of clothes and hair.
From Savannakhet town you travel with a guide to the Phin district of Savannakhet province on Road No 9. On arrival in the district, travel south towards the Xe Banghieng river. Here the transport is left behind and the trek begins. After a light lunch in the jungle, the trek continues through mixed forest and woodland punctuated with rocky outcrops; there are many opportunities to see wildlife along the way. After a short rest at Sing stream the trek continues across village gardens and old rice paddies. A further 8km brings you to Vongsikeo village and an overnight stay. After being introduced to the villagers by the chief, trekkers have the opportunity to witness village life, including silk production, weaving and the blacksmith at work. The Vongsikeo villagers prepare a traditional dinner. Later, guests and local villagers exchange cultures through dancing and singing, with villagers singing traditional songs such as the Lam Khuad (a romantic duet) and the Lam Tangvay.
Day 2: Vongsikeo to Xe Banghieng River and Dong Sa Kee Sacred Forest
Before breakfast, there is the opportunity to join the guide to Dong Sa Kee sacred forest and the chance to see the rare leaf monkeys (silvered langur) and hornbills. The villagers use this forest as the main source of their traditional medicine and here you learn about the forest products gathered and extracted by the villagers and how they use them.
On the way back to the village see the villagers who have started their daily work and activities. After breakfast, start the 12km trek to another Katang village situated on the Xe Banghieng River. This trail leads though a mixture of forest types containing more of the natural products villagers gather. On the way there are many opportunities to observe birds and wildlife as well. The guide teaches some of the stories about the various rock formations along the way such as rocky rhinoceros.
Day 3: Boat trip and rapids
Ride the long tailed boat to La Berng Nang rapids where you stop to enjoy the views of the forest reaching down to the riverside and the white sand beach. Then on to Sammat-tae rapid, where the former President, Kaysone Phomvihane, used to bathe and take rests. This rapid is very beautiful and the water is very cold with rocks stretching from one edge to the other. Take a dip on the water while waiting to be met by the transport and taken back to Phin district and on to Savannakhet.
By: Somsack Pongkhao
Vientiane Times 2 March 2004
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 December 2010 06:12 )