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For Educators

Where in God’s World is Laos?

by Tina Tocco

 Fascinating Facts about Laos

This Southeast Asian country is bordered by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma. Laos is landlocked, meaning it has no coastline. It’s slightly larger than Utah.

From May until October, Laos experiences monsoons and strong winds that douse the region. Some areas can get up to 160 inches of rain during this rainy season! From November until April, the country goes into its dry season and sometimes experiences droughts.

Animals you might see here include elephants, guars (wild oxen), gibbons, tigers, rhinoceroses, woodpeckers, storks, snakes, and geckoes.

Popular sports here include soccer, volleyball, and takraw. Takraw is a South Asian game where players attempt to keep a ball in the air with their head and feet but are not allowed to touch it with their hands.

The most popular food here is sticky rice. Laotians eat it with every meal. Sticky rice can also be used as a utensil. People form the rice into a ball, make an indentation in the ball, then use it to scoop up other food. Other popular Laotian dishes include mok pa (fish steamed in a banana leaf), padaek (a paste made from fish), and papaya salad.

People in Laos enjoy music played on an instrument called a khaen. The khaen is made from bamboo pipes of various lengths and is played by blowing into it. Khaens are part of traditional Lao performances known as mohlam, which involve singing, dancing, and poetry.

The Lao New Year, Songkarn, is the most important holiday here. It is celebrated in April when the first rains of the year occur and the country’s agricultural year begins. Water plays an important part in the celebration, with Laotians joyously splattering everyone around them.

 

Learn the Language

Laos’ official language is Lao. Lao uses a different alphabet than English, so these words are spelled the way they would be in our alphabet. Try these Lao phrases:

Good morning. — Sa bai di ton sao.

How are you today? — Mu ni chao sa bai di bo?

The sticky rice is delicious! — Kab khaoniav aesb!

Let’s play takraw! — Hai khongrin takraw!

See you tomorrow. — Boeng than naimuun.

 Good night. — Naitonkangkhun thidi.

 

mhooper

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