The Chinese temple Xieng Chai.
The Buddhist temple of Xieng Chai or Vat Luang is the oldest temple in Muang Sing dating back to the end of the 1800s. It is the most important for the Tai Lu community, the largest minority group in the area. There are two entrances, one on the main road just before the Museum and Community house, and the other, left at the crossroads 100 metres down on the left.
Visit a school.
This school is a good example of harmony and community spirit between three different minority tribes. One school for the three villages was managed by pooling the resources of each village and its artisans. It was impossible for each village to manage on its own to have enough classes and teachers, so the three villages being all within 500 metres of each other put their heads together and came up with a solution. Using the same classrooms at different times of the day gave an opportunity for all the kids from each village in the area to at least have some schooling for a few hours in a week. It also gave us a chance to distribute a few exercise books and some biro pens to the teachers.
A tuktuk tour.V.
The end part of the tour took us through another two or three villages, and we could see a Tai Dam woman weaving in Pa Noi, a Lolo grandmother looking after her grandson and a Yao woman trying to sell us some handicraft. All these people welcomed us with a smile and we spent some time in each village, using our guide as translator.
A tuktuk tour.IV.
This part of the tour took us to the foot of the hill up to the Xieng Teung Stupa. It supposedly contains the Adams apple of Buddha and as such is revered in the area. There is a festival held here Late Oct/early November at the full moon. There is a good half-hour walk up to the top as the tuktuk won't make it. It is not known when it was built, even when we asked the solitary monk he didn't know. The Wat on the same flat platform at the top of the hill was being renovated when we were there. A good view over the fields to Muang Sing and China through a gap in the trees. There is (or was) a path that carries on from here to the Nam Keo waterfall, but it seems very tricky to follow.
After coming back down the rickety stone stairs we stopped for lunch in what is essentially a farmers refuge in a field off from the main LNT-Muang Sing road.
A tuktuk tour.III
The second part of our circuit took us round a village of Tai Neua who specialize in noodle-making and also making the famous local firewater "Laolao". Everything is done by hand, the noodles by making up the pasta and then putting it through a manual wringer and then down through a grill into a large bowl heated up with a fire beneath. It is then recuperated and laid out on trestles to dry out . Being a specialized subject the Tai Neua were a little reluctant to give complete explanations about how the alcohol is made but did allow us to take a few photos.
A tuktuk tour.II
First part of the tour took us round to the morning market, which even at 7h30 was alive and vibrant with people getting off buses and tuktuks, parking their scooters and generally creating one hell of a din. A great place to get up close to the locals and see some of the produce. As usual in Asian markets fruit and veg are separated from the fish and the meat stalls. There are also some stalls set up with cakes and sweetstuffs and another part with H'Mong women selling the usual handicrafts Plus skirts and indigo jackets. Here and there are also moneychangers and buyers of gold. The money changers are to be avoided, they give the lowest rate of anyone where we wanted to change. Average price for banks and cambios was 1€ = 10.900/10.960, here they wanted to change at 10.600 and one even as low as 10.500 (rates at end Feb 2014). Our guide bought some bits and pieces to go with our lunch. Didn't see another white person at all that morning and it is a good chance to mingle with people.
A tuktuk tour.
Amongst the treks and tours proposed by the agency part of Phou Iu was a tuktuk tour. Starting at 7h00 with a guide included taking in first of all the morning market, back to Phou Iu for breakfast and then set out with the tuktuk to various minority villages and a stupa a few kms out from Muang Sing. The tour does involve a fair amount of walking so it is not just a case of being taken everywhere by tuktuk, notably up to the stupa which is a good half-hour up the hill and as long to come down as it is down steps that are built into the hillside and have been there a few hundred years. The machine is a standard tuktuk, so be prepared for some shaking about as there is mainly dirt roads out to some of the villages and some also where the tuktuk doesn't go. This is the tour we did, but rhere are others if you browse around the site.We paid 250.000 LAK (around 23€ per person) and this included the tour, the guide, the tuktuk and a packed lunch provided by Phou Iu and some fresh fruit that the guide bought at the market that motning.
Visit the Tribal Museum in Muang Sing
*Visit the Tribal Museum of Muang Sing
Unknowingly, My guesthouse was just few meters across the opposite side of the Museum of Muang Sing. At the Balcony of my Guesthouse I was able to take a picture of the Building. Inside the museum are large collections of traditional Tools from the tribal groups in the area. In here you learn to know the rich culture, religious artifacts and the ancient history of the different ethnic groups which were being conserved and preserved by the people living in the area of Mouang Sing.
Monday-Friday from 9 to 11:30 am and 1:30 to 3:30 pm,
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Budget Travel
The Leaning Houses of the Akha Village
Like the leaning Tower of Pisa, this is one of the very unique and weird experiences i ever had to watch and observe how the people live in these kinds of houses which is almost 5°-to 6° degrees leaning in any directions. How can they live in here? Are the floorings also leaning in some directions? How can they sleep in such situations? These are some of the questions that raised in my mind upon seeing these kind of architecture. It was weird to watch how the woman did her daily household activities. Everything seemed normal. My curiosity regarding my doubts on their moods of living i just kept to myself. Although it seems that i have the answers to all of my questions but I didn´t dare to investigate further how they made it and why they could not repair or keep their houses straight or in perfect dimensions. Maybe they are used to live in this manner and they are happy to possess such kind of property much better than to live in open nature without shelter at all. The love and closeness within the family members wich is shown in my pictures play the main role. This count much that make a simple house a "home". It is their lives and living in this simple way but satisfied and happy is the most important part of it. They deserve, anyway, my great respect and i valued this culture and willing to protect and save this endangered traditions.
If you happened to visit one day these places maybe you can find it out by yourself and will know the answers. For me it is their culture, they have the right to live the way they do so i left this up to them.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Adventure Travel
- Arts and Culture
My 1st encounter w/ endangered Tribe of Muang Sing
It was not easy for us to reach the villages in Muang Sing because the roads are not so well developed. As seen on my picture the way has lots of holes and very rugged which needed lots of efforts and energy to walk esp. under the heat of the sun. We started to walk early in the morning around 7:30 a.m. and we reached one of the villages around 10:30 a.m. I suggest to dress very lightly and wear stable, comfortable good shoes for the hike. To wear Hat is not bad because the heat of the sun is biting the skin and glaring for the eyes. Sunglasses was for me a good alternative against glare. Don´t forget to bring liters of water on the way. Here are no stores available in the middle of the forest. Some light snacks or energizers like fruits are very helpful. The way was long and monotone to walk because we only saw the clay streets and the thick quite green forests. When we reached the symbolic entrance to the village we were very happy and the noise of the children being left behind at their homes broke out the boresomeness and silence of the day. They were giggling and playing hide and seek with us. We didn´t bring any candies or goodies for the children but they were happy with some school supplies like ballpens. Actually it is everytime better to let the head of the village distribute some Things to avoid clashes. But on our visit there were only few of them were there. All men went to their farms to work. Women and children were left at home. The village has clean surroundings and i didn´t see scattered garbage. The area was nett and orderly in a very simple way of living. Our trek was a success. We were the only two foreign individuals who explored during this time of the day. So the village in general was meant only for the two of us. It was a very peaceful and relaxing part of our exploration. We stayed and just observed the daily walks of life of the native people.The children were very happy to see us and we were very lucky that we were able to experience this unique unforgetable adventure in the village.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Adventure Travel
Walk out into the hills around Muang Singh. Pass through vast fields of Sugar Cane, rice paddies, lumbering water buffalo and friendly people. As the land around Muang Singh gently rises up to hills, it's easy to pick a walk as easy or hard as you like. Ask around at your guesthouse or in town for good places to walk.
- Hiking and Walking
Hire a delightful chinese bicycle in the town, and cruise around the roads. As Muang Singh is situated on a broad valley floor, most of the roads are flat, thus ideal for cycling. The ancient bikes we hired had only one gear and primitive brakes, so a lack of hills was essential!! Nonetheless, it was fun to ride around, taking in the sights at a slower pace.
Places to cycle from Muang Singh:
-the chinese border
-around town, taking a massage
-up towards the hills on either side of the valley
-the half pipe in the middle of town (joking ;)
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Find a guide and trek up into the hills around the town, staying overnight in a hill tribe village. See Accomodation - Adima tip for more info..
I stayed in an 'Akha' tribe village, walking up for a few hours, stopping for a delicious lunch the guides had bought from the market before we left. As we ascended into the misty jungle, the guides pointed out wooden talismans left to ward off evil spirits. Eventually we arrived on the top of a ridge and the village emerged out of the mist. As it was late afternoon, and very damp, there was not a soul in sight. An eery and atmospheric place to arrive! But from each bamboo hut we could hear lots of chatter and laughter. These people love to laugh!
Our guides took us to the guest hut, lit a warming fire and prepared a delicious dinner for us. Later some villagers came to see us, and we each received a (fully clothed) massage from the unmarried girls of the village. This was a surreal experience as we lay in a row with the girls chatting and laughing amongst eachother as they pummeled us by candlelight! We wondered what they were saying?
Afterwards the men passed round the Lao-lao (rice whisky) to welcome us, before we retired to bed under blankets. Bring warm clothes if you visit earlier in the year as it was very cold at night!
Next morning the cloud had lifted, and we could see the whole village, with it's plethora of animals. Cows, goats, pigs, chickens, cats and dogs roamed free, sleeping under huts and rice barns. As the womenfolk left to work in the fields, carrying bamboo baskets, the men and children remained behind chatting a laughing around fires. Some of the men smoked cigarettes made from graph paper and tobacco!
Later we descended from the hills, passing through other villages, shouting 'hello' and having lunch in a dry rice padi.
- Hiking and Walking
- Farm Stay
Most beautiful views: Walking trails GH Adima
On your way to the Chinese border, there is a small town where Guesthouse Adima is. Here starts a nice walk to several Mien and Akha villages and a superb view over the area. To my personal opinion, one of the most beautiful views I've seen in Laos, even when it was raining a bit and not fully clear. I'm not sure if there are any maps available for the hike, we actually took a picture with a digital camera of the map that hung on the wall in the guesthouse and followed the route on that one. If you get lost, just ask "Adima" to the locals and they'll point you into the right direction.
In one of the villages there was a little "hospital", interesting to see!
- Hiking and Walking
There are hundreds of trucks loaded with sugar cane heading to China everyday, and if you wander off of the main road you will see the locals loading the trucks by hand.