The Price of Tourism

Just as the end of a museum tour ends in the gift shop, a pit stop at a “model” resettlement village is sometimes the price to pay when traveling as a tourist. In Luang Prabang, Laos, we hired a tour guide for a day. He told us that we just need to make one stop along the way… a Hmong village.

Wares for sale in the Hmong village.

The Hmong people had been resettled here and make a living selling crafts to tourists. There are many debates on the pros and cons about whether this life is better for these people. Some people react by becoming very sad. Others feel uncomfortable. Yet others give the cute kids money after they’ve taken their photos. Some buy the crafts for sale. In this village, there was no pretense. The path through the village was lined with tables and stalls selling wares. We made our forced tour as fast as possible but, from the Northface clothing hanging on the line, it was evident that one could pay to stay overnight at this “authentic” village.

The youngest and the oldest women do the washing.