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Laos Photos: Chiang Khong - Houixai - Pakbeng - Luang Prabang by boat on Mekong river: 25 - 28 Dec 2005
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Lao timber elephant transports logs to the waiting boat on Mekong river  
Timber elephants are used to transport cut logs to the waiting boats on Mekong river, between Ban Pakbeng and Luang Prabang. Lao forests produce precious hardwood and softwood timber to be used domesticaly and to export to China and Thailand. Like Myanmar, Laos export logs; but export of finished, or even semi-finished, wood products which generate employment as well as byproducts for further income is very rare. Due to the regulations of neighbouring countries, and its own odd rules, both countries are not able to compete in the finished wood product market.

Just look at this sad example: furniture makers in Myanmar and Laos are having big troubles in competition with the furniture makers in Thailand and Vietnam which import timber from Myanmar and Laos !! Besides losing employment opportunities and business; these poorer countries have to import furniture made of particle boards - these are in fact by products of their own timber.

Tha Swan village - to Hong Sa   Gold finding on the river bank
Tha Swan on the southern bank of mekong. From this village it is 25 km mountain road to Hong Sa - the nature tourism place in Xayabouri (Sayabouri) province. Right: Local villagers finding gold from the river.

Ground nuts on the sand bank  
Ground nut plantation on the sand bank along Mekong river. During the dry season while there are a lot of sand areas along the river villagers plant ground nuts. Groundnut is consumed in several ways: grinded into cooking oil, eaten boiled or baked or fried. The shells of the nut also have both home and industrial use.

Kok Ek - a Hmong village   Kok Ek - a Hmong village
Kok Ek, a Hmong people village, on the right bank of the river. A relatively large village has a primary school. There are pigs, chicken, ducks; and villagers also grow rice, corn, peanut or ground nut. Hand weaving of cloths and clothes are also seen. Some villagers work in timber extraction jobs.

Note: when visiting villages we saw some foreign tourists who give sweets and other small gifts to children and take photos of them. The children would assume that whenever tourists come they will get something free. It is a bad habit that should not be created into these poor people.

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