Laos 4

However, the missionary was far from despondent. There were Meos in the mountains not far from Vientiane, and just as in the plateaux of Vietnam the Moi’s had not rejected the Gospel, so here the primitive peoples of the mountains seemed promising material for evangelisation. There would be no risk of jeopardising conversion by hunting, among such hearty amateurs of ... Read More »

Laos 3

These are the sights of Vientiane, but in addition there is a spectacle which is popular with Europeans, who, remote, isolated, and living under difficulties, tend to shut themselves up within the protective social rituals of people in exile. This spectacle is the slaughterhouse at work. I do not know whether or not it is illegal in Laotian law to ... Read More »

Laos 2

The second attraction in order of popularity was a love-court. A quad¬rangular arrangement of tables had been formed, covered by a thatched roof raised on posts decorated with woven bamboo representations of animals, weapons and phallic emblems. Seated round the tables in the interior of the square were the girls, and their suitors sat facing them. Between the couples had ... Read More »


LAOS FROM 10,000 FEET was a grey-green frothing seen through a J heat-mist that was like a pane of dirty glass. As we came into Vientiane in the late afternoon the mist thickened and the pilot came down as if to look for landmarks. For the last half-hour bundles of rags kept whirling past the cabin. They were vultures – ... Read More »

Bandit Country 4

This village was on a river bank and had a market selling a great deal of fish. There was a particular species which I saw here for the first time, but continually thereafter. What was remarkable about it was that it was always displayed for sale alive; in this case neatly lined up on banana leaves with others of its ... Read More »

Bandit Country 3

In the case of one’s food requirements, the remedy is to try to draw what one wants (my stylised sketch of a bird produced not a chicken’s wing, but two fried sparrows on a skewer), or point to what others are eating – invariably Chinese soup, from which the tentacles of small river octopi tend to trail. All this gives ... Read More »

Bandit Country 2

It seemed that we had taken a cross-country cut, avoiding the towns I had expected to pass through, because somehow or other we missed Sisophon. A few miles away over on our left would have been the shores of the great lake which, although in the present dry season was only about ninety miles in length by about twenty in ... Read More »

Bandit Country

THERE WAS an intrepid American girl at the hotel. She was not a member of the tourist party from Siam, but had straggled in un¬obtrusively from Tokyo, via Macao and Saigon and many other intermediary China Sea ports with remote and evocatory names. She was writing, and living on a small, carefully managed allowance and appeared never to stop travelling. ... Read More »

Angkor 8

At ten o’clock that night, therefore, the hotel bus stopped at the end of the causeway leading to Angkor Vat. News of the performance had spread, and to my surprise what must have been most of the population of Siem- Reap, and probably of the neighbouring villages as well, had put in an appearance. A fiesta atmosphere prevailed with stalls ... Read More »

Angkor 7

Thus had the powerful Brahmanical gods of the Khmer Empire shrunk and shrivelled along with the Empire itself. And now they were no more than neak ta – mere tree spirits to frighten babies with; of no more importance than the khmoo pray – the wicked dead, such as women who have died in childbed; the beisac – the famished ... Read More »