Phuan of Xieng Khouang

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After the Plain of Jars we went to visit a village named Ban Mee after which a Thai district took its name.  There we had an opportunity to talk to Phuan villagers.  We discovered that Phuan language spoken there is practically the same as in our village in the central plain of Thailand.  Many members in the trip felt that they have met long lost relatives.

Phuan lost their kingdom when they were caught in the middle of a war with Vietnam on one side and Siam on the other side. A number of Phuan people were forced to migrate to Thailand or moved to Thailand voluntarily during the early Bangkok period (around late 18th to early 19th century).  They settled in many provinces from Nan in the north to Sukhothai, Supanburi, Lopbusi, Singburi, Nakorn-Nayok, and so on in the central plain.

Phuan in Thailand, although integrated into the local society, still kept some traditional religious ceremonies, language, weaving, depending on the environment they had settled in.

Before the day ended, we went to visit another nearby temple, named Wat Santiparb.  Temples that we visited had one common characteristic, they all have paintings on the exterior wall of the temples as well as on the interior. (See pictures)

That evening, a traditional well-wishing ceremony was held for Thai guests in the house of a local acquaintance.  This ceremony, Tam Kwan, started with preparation where everyone in the community lent his/her hand. Then the master of ceremony performed the rite accompanying by elders who all said well-wishing words while tied one of our wrists with colorful yarns.

After the ceremony, all had diner together.  The diner was simple compared to what we thought as diner for a group of about 40 people in a city but with many local delicacy.  After diner, we had a chance to hear a Phuan’s traditional song  accompanying by a local musical instrument (see picture).

The following day we took another long trip along  the highway through mountainous region of the northeast  toward Sam Nuea. We reached our destination in the evening in time to go up to visit the temple on a mountain top with commanding view of the town.  Sam Nuea as we saw it is a lovely town located on the slope of a mountain.  No wonder Laos is viewed as  Switzerland of Asia.

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