Into the Meo Country 4

I was lodged in the minor palace of the Conseiller de la Republique, the senior French official in Northern Laos, a Monsieur Leveau. The Conseiller was a man whose shyness and slight reserve of manner failed to mask a quite extraordinary hospitality. He never, for instance, issued a formal invitation to a meal, preferring with an air of casual assumption ... Read More »

Into the Meo Country 3

There was a gun in the corner – a muzzle-loader of the kind it takes a Meo two years to make. They are copied from the guns first supplied by the Jesuits to the Chinese, but are turned out by an endlessly laborious process involving boring out a solid bar by twirling a white-hot iron in it. It was enormously ... Read More »

Into the Meo Country 2

This custom, widespread in mountain tribes which are split up into scattered, isolated hamlets, is practised by the Meos as well as the Thais. Once a year eligible bachelors and maidens gather at some convenient central point, and each one in turn, the boys alternating with the girls, describes in verse, to the accompaniment of Kenes, their possessions, their accomplishments, ... Read More »

Into the Meo Country

IN THE SENSE that least is known about them, the Meos are the most mysterious of the twelve principal races of Indo-China. This Mongo¬lian people is to be found at altitudes higher than 3000 feet over the whole of Indo-China north of the 21st parallel of latitude. They are utterly incapable of bearing, even for the shortest time, other than ... Read More »

The Road to Xien Khouang 6

At about this time when the bonze was treading underfoot the village’s artistic output of several months, a party of Issarak or Viet-Minh, timing their action to coincide with the convoy’s arrival at Muong Kassy, had set fire to the forest just south of the post. A steady breeze was blowing from that quarter, and the fire, started over a ... Read More »

The Road to Xien Khouang 5

At about half-past eight, then, by which time Dupont was convinced that the village of Pha Home, with its Viet-Minh visitors, would be peacefully sleeping, we started off. It was difficult to approach the village quietly, as the road was uphill all the way. Dupont stopped and tried to quieten the exhaust, by squeezing the ends of the pipe together. ... Read More »

The Road to Xien Khouang 4

When we left Sour Hak’s place there was no one in sight in the street. Dupont said that the officers would be eating, so why worry them? We would motor off quietly down the road, have our bathe, and then see how we felt. So, driving quite slowly and pretending to take an interest in the sights, we edged our ... Read More »

The Road to Xien Khouang 3

The Meo dog suffered from the heat just as badly as, according to report, its original owner would have done. Its tongue lolled from its mouth and, laying its head either on Dupont’s lap or on mine, it dribbled on our bare knees. It could not stand the dust, and wetted us further with its continual sneezings. Some of the ... Read More »

The Road to Xien Khouang 2

Until midday we slithered and bumped along the track, walled-in by the monotonous forest. Then at last the forest diminished and shrivelled into bush, then scrub, and finally a savannah of coarse grass. Here crouching among Cyclopean boulders were the few huts of plaited bamboo which made up the first village. Into this we thumped, bursting out of our envelope ... Read More »

The Road to Xien Khouang

THE STRUGGLE with the pirogue men, which I expected would become a daily routine, was suddenly broken off by news of a convoy going to Xien Khouang. And better still there was a spare seat in a car which would leave the convoy after the danger point was passed and carry on to Luang Prabang. This was a jeep belonging ... Read More »