Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return

DavidFL

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Pakxe - Savannakhet

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Ex Pakxe: 11.55AM = we weren't in a rush.
Arrival Savannakhet: 3.10PM
Average Speed: 75 kph

The Savannakhet river front boulevard

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The French took control of the Savannakhet area in 1893 & upgraded it to a province in 1907.
There are many old dilapidated colonial buildings left, some of them quite beautiful; & worthy of restoring.

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An old building, renovated & turned into a nice coffee shop / restaurant by Thai people.

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The sign posting in Savannakhet was excellent.

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DavidFL

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Laha Sin Weaving Centre
Savannakhet
N16 33.410 E104 45.436

Hundreds of years ago, the Phuthai people settled along the Banghiang River in Savannakhet Province in central Laos. For centuries, the Phouthai women have woven fabrics using natural dyes and fibres from the surrounding forests. Today, through Madam Songbandith, the Director of Thong Laha Sinh Company, these cotton fibres had brought to the peoples of the world under the Laha label. All the fabrics are handspun and woven from unique organically grown Lao cotton, using indigo and other natural dyes. Thong Laha Sinh draws a diverse clientele of people around the world, which interested in Preserve Environment and Natural dyed for healthy lifestyle. The “Eco-friendly” concept is the center of development projects. A part of our mission is to support the sustainable development of local people in the use of locally available raw materials while preserving their valuable traditional culture, also eradicating poverty. One project is the promotion of hand-woven textiles of the Phuthai ethic group, who have been living along the Xepon River in Savannakhet province, central Laos, for centuries.
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Thanks again Jerome for showing me around.
 

Rhodie

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Davidfl;267119 wrote: PAKXE
8th February 2011

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An excellent thread showing how much development has occurred in past few years.
You've found some real gems, that deserve further exploration - the zip-line experience looks cracking fun.
I see you have employed the old National Geographic trick of placing a subject wearing red into the pic for dramatic effect!
:mrgreen:
 

DavidFL

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Savannaket continued (I've been severely distracted)...

Next stop in Savan with Jerome was the traditional Lao coffee factory

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roasting coffee

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& it was as hot as hell in this premises.
 

DavidFL

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The 4000 Island get a bridge, linking Don Khong with the main land.
Officially opened on 23.11.32014.
(KPL) The opening of a 718-metre bridge across the Mekong River, linking Khong Island to the mainland of Champassak Province was officially opened for public use on November 23 to boost trade, investment, tourism, and to drive growth in the southern region.

The new bridge, which was largely funded by the Chinese government, will enable the inhabitants of the 10 villages on Khong Island (Khong district) to better connect with the mainland. They were previously only able to make the river crossing by ferry, which was time-consuming and inefficient.

Visitors to the island, which is a popular tourist spot, also had to catch a ferry, while boats transported all vehicles and supplies.
In his address at the opening ceremony, Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchan Sinthavong said that Chinese financial support has been significant for socio-economic development and the growth of trade and tourism in the south of Laos. The bridge will make travel to and from the island much easier, as well as the transport of goods, he added.

"It will significantly contribute to greater socio-economic development, trade, investment, and tourism in the southern region in particular and Laos as a whole,"he said. ?It will also improve local livelihoods."

Built at a cost of more than US$34.12 million (more than 273.9 billion kip), 95 percent of the financing was provided by a long-term, low interest loan from China?s Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank). The remaining 5 percent, amounting to US$1.7 million, was provided by the Lao government.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Governor of Champassak province Dr Bounthong Divixay also stressed the significance of the bridge in boosting development in the area.

He described China's support as 'valuable assistance'and thanked the government of China and Exim Bank for their contribution.
"This assistance is a tremendous contribution to infrastructure development. Slowly but surely it will help local communities to boost their income and improve their standard of living,"Dr Bounthong said. He pledged that Champassak would make good use of the bridge to drive development and attend to its maintenance so that it will be operational for many years to come.

Champassak considers the bridge to be a symbol of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between Laos and China, the governor added.?The bridge, which is 11 metres wide, took 34 months to complete.

Among the guests at the function were Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Chinese Ambassador to Laos Guan Huabing, and other officials from Laos and China.
It's all starting to get a lot easier & the sooner you head to the pristine 4000 Islands the better.
Enjoy...hit the road for the 4000 Islands Soon.
 

DavidFL

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The Laha Story


Seven shades of indigo
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In spiritual terms, indigo is the colour of intuition and perception. In fashion terms, it’s synonymous with denim – deep of hue and naturally dyed.

It’s also one of the seven colours of the rainbow and has up to seven of its own distinct shades. But did you know that indigo also has mosquito repelling properties, and helps reduce perspiration. It’s for these reasons, and more, that indigo, derived from the plant of the same name, has been intricately linked to the livelihoods of Lao people for generations. In Laos, indigo is often dubbed “the living colour”, because of the procedures involved in its cultivation, a complex process that involves extracting the liquid from the plant leaves and fermenting it, until a chemical process turns it from a murky yellow to the deep indigo hue. During this process, great care is taken to ensure the colour does not “die” at each step, and it is then prized for its various practical, rather than simply aesthetic, qualities.

This is especially true for rice farmers, who often wear cotton dyed with natural Indigo. But today, all over the world, fashionable young things are toting bags and wearing jeans and shirts made from “natural-dyed indigo” and hailing from the popular Japanese chain store Muji, which has more than 470 branches worldwide. Most people are unaware of the brand’s long-established link with a workshop in southern Laos, home of the Thonglahasinh Company, which today exports several textile products to Japan.

According to the company’s founder, Bounthong Yodmankhong, the road to this point has been long and winding, beginning when he set up the company with his wife, Songbandith, almost 30 years ago.

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Back in 1990, Thongsavanhxay Company, as it was then known, began life as a garment factory in Savannakhet, exporting products to Europe. But when the European Union cancelled a special tax exemption, many foreign investors in Laos had to move their operations to China and Vietnam. Thongsavanhxay was among many local operations that were forced to close. But Bounthong says the move also forced him and his wife to change their business focus, and concentrate more on locally made products that reflected Lao culture.

Songbandith hails from Ban Laha, a small village in Savannakhet Province that has long been associated with indigo and cotton farming. Due to a family heritage of work in the area, she had hundreds of rolls of vintage fabrics scattered throughout the family home. It was these that caught the eye of Maki, a visiting conservationist and textiles expert from Japan, who was introduced to the family by an expert from JICA.

Mr Maki was interested in Lao weaving culture and saw the beautiful fabrics we’d collected,” Bounthong says.
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“He wanted to understand more about the traditional weaving methods of the villagers of Laha from the village elders, and especially about the traditional indigo dyeing methods.”

The idea was to revive the traditional heritage of indigo and Lao cotton weaving, and combine it with modern designs, in a joint Lao-Japanese enterprise. After several years of studying and refining the local craft, the project, led by Bounthong and Maki, was able to export products to Yukenled, a leading import company in Japan, in 1997.

From this, the local Thonglahasing, or ‘Laha’ brand was born, an enterprise that was now large enough to export its products and gain international recognition. From then on, Bounthong regularly attended international textile exhibitions and trade shows, and it was while attending an exhibition in Japan in 2012 that he met a representative of Muji.

“He was interested in collaborating with the business, and said Muji had been monitoring Laha’s progress for the past 12 years,” Bounthong says.

This partnership led Bounthong, along with the general manager of Muji, on a study tour to India to research traditional Indian methods of indigo dyeing.

“When working with the Japanese, every step must be very detailed and meticulous in order to satisfy their quality standards,” Bounthong says.

“But this didn’t put us off at Laha – we’ve worked hard over the years to prove ourselves to Muji and maintain the relationship.”

Nowadays, the Thonglahasinh Company fills orders worth US$2 million a year for Muji, with the most popular item a simple denim tote bag in varying shades of indigo. The company sends off more than 1 million of these each year, alongside limited edition scarves, pillowcases and cushion covers.

“These products are limited because of the precision required in weaving and dyeing according to Japanese standards, which takes time,” Bounthong says.

“But we’re told they’re highly prized by Japanese customers.”

Today, Bounthong is wearing one of his own indigo shirts – faded and softly worn with age – and muses that the business of textiles is both beautiful and multi-faceted. An avid photographer in his spare time, he says the patience and attention to detail required to capture the perfect image is similar to producing beautiful cotton and indigo fabrics. And both require an appreciation for beauty that millions of people, the world over, can now share.


Source: Champa Meuanglao
Images: Phoonsab Thevongsa​