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I had rented a moterbike in Pakse - the southern part of Laos - and was driving around Bolaven Plateau for a week. One morning at my guesthouse in Attapeu I was talking to a man who was working in the small restaurant. Suddenly he told me about a group of people who had lived more than 25 years in the mountains and just had come down to a small village 4 days earlier. Wow - I couldn't believe what I'd just heard and really wanted to see those people. The man found the owner of the guesthouse to get some more information about where this village was. He said that one of the cleaning-girls at the guesthouse actually came from that village and he would give her the day of the next day to go with me.

I was really excited the next morning when the young girl and I took my moterbike and started our trip. We drove down to a river - crossed it with a small "ferry" and continued driving on dusty roads for an other 20 km before we reached the village. Great, then we just had to find the place where those people stayed. After asking a few people we found it.

I was really curious to see those people but at the same time I didn't feel too good about the situation. We parked the motorbike and walked down to the house. Found a tree a bit from the house and sat down.

What we saw was a lot of children playing around and some men and women sitting around a small fire in front of the house - most of them were smoking a long pipe.

I didn't find it appropriate to take photos of the people but on our way back we stopped for a drink and when I saw this woman smoking on a pipe, I asked if I could take her picture. She reminded me very much of those people.

The cleaning-girl didn't speak any english, so I couldn't have all my questions answered, but when we came back to the guesthouse, the owner translated for me:

There were 33 of them and when they came down to the village 4 days earlier, they were wearing clothes made of bark. They were from Cambodia and had escaped from the Khmer Rouge so they had stayed more than 25 years in the mountains. Why they suddenly had chosen to come down from the mountains.......I don't know, but I really had an unforgettable day :)

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Additional Photos by Tina Munk (tinamunk3) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 325 W: 88 N: 449] (6408)
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