Pi Mai In Kok Phoung Tai Village
One of the best things that came from my time on the Bolaven Plateau (motor bike loop) was my time spent with Mr. Hook and his family in the village of Kok Phoung Tai. In Laos there are over 100 ethnic groups and in this particular village I had a pleasure of interacting with the beautiful Katu people.
I arrived at the village on April 13th with plans to stay only for one night. However, Pi Mai (Lao New Year) was a couple of days away and I thought it would be much more interesting to experience it with the locals. My total stay turned into a three night stay surrounded by a family of thirty-four, including more than fifteen children, and I loved every minute of it.
A Brief Overview On the Lao New Year Traditions
Three-Four days before the new year you will find many of the locals lined up on the side of the road throwing water on innocent pedestrians as they ride by on Tuk Tuks, motorbikes or casually walking the side of the road. Some of the locals are considerate of the foreigners, but others don’t seem to have a problem using their water guns or dumping a big pot of water down your back. After a day I had to tell myself to just go with the flow. n their country and it serves you well to just go with the flow. Besides, the symbolism behind the water is the washing away of all your “bad luck” and granting you good luck for the new year. I must admit, after the second day I found myself shouting through my helmet “STOP WITH THE WATER, IT’S COLD, ALL OF MY BAD LUCK HAS BEEN WASHED AWAY ALREADY!” 🙂
During the four day celebration, longer if you’re in places like Luang Prabang, water is also used for washing homes, Buddha images and the monks. This particular water isn’t just ordinary water, it’s perfumed with flowers, natural perfumes and/or spices. Over the years other traditions have evolved like the smearing of cream or powder on the face. During Pi Mai, you will also see several people gathering at the temples to worship and pray to have a healthier and happier life in the new year. One other important aspect during the festival is the sound of music. As your cruising along the streets or staying in a village, you can hear different genres of music being played: Lao, Pop (American), traditional village music, etc. The day before Pi Mai, we had a party in the village and I literally danced for about two hours straight. In order to escape the dance circle, I had to run away and hide in another part of the village which I did and ended up meeting another family. 🙂 I don’t know how they managed to dance for several hours nonstop, but they did. I think it might have to do with the organic coffee. (wink wink)
There are a few more traditions that are kept during the Lao New Year celebration, but these were the ones I had the pleasure of experiencing first hand. I put together a video capturing some of my highlights during my time at Captain Hook’s Coffee Plantation and Homestay, I hope you enjoy.
Lots of Love,