Showing a child in Laos her photo
Showing a child in Laos her photo

One of my favorite things to do no matter where I travel is locate some of the tribal villages within that particular culture.

Almost every country has people living in tribal sectors who operate within their own societies. These tribal villages are remote, primitive and reflective of the ancient culture of that country. The families who live in these villages do not often see tourists and usually graciously embrace visits from new friends.

The children in tribal villages are particularly engaging. Keep in mind, these are people who usually live off the land, have very meek dwellings and usually have no technology.

I always take time to photograph the children and then show them their image. Most of these children have NEVER seen themselves in a photograph before. It is always a treasured moment that brightens my world. Their expressions, and squealing excitement is so much fun to experience.

Here is a quick video I shot of children in a small tribal village in Southern Laos. They were so excited by our spontaneous arrival and got so rambunctious that I finally had to turn off the camera after one little boy fell:

As a visitor, you wonder how anyone could live in such a primitive environment. But, the tribal villagers do not know any different. They thrive and survive within in an ancient culture and sometimes even have their own religions. This particular village in Laos has a religion called Aminism in which they worship the spirits of the mountains, the land and their homes. A communal worship house sits in the center of the village.

Tribal villages have their own barter and trade systems. I have been in some villages where a trade of three cows paid for a funeral. I have seen oxen exchanged for fruits and vegetables. I have seen hand woven textiles exchanged for livestock. It fascinating to see these societies completely operating in their own way within a larger society.

The following video is in the same small Southern Laos village to give you perspective on their homes. You will notice in the first shot that despite extremely primitive means, there is a huge satellite dish sitting in the center of the village which I found to be humorous.

You know the expression, it takes a village to raise a child. In tribal villages, it really does. It doesn’t matter if you are in Laos, Ethiopia or Vietnam. If you have never experienced the people, the culture, the environment and mind-twisting comprehension of a life so different from your own in a remote tribal village, I encourage you visit one out on your next journey. I promise it is an experience that will fundamentally change you by enabling you to appreciate the basic ingredients of life and happiness.