Throw a ball and get married

Today was our last day in Laos. And we experienced one of our most exhilarating highlights.

The annual ‘traditional Hmong festival’ was in full swing the week we were in Luang Prabang. We were incredibly fortunate since it is a moving target every year based on the Lunar calendar. It starts with the full moon and continues for about a week till the moon reaches a quarter crescent. Thrown into the vastness, bustle, noise, food stalls and entertainment, it reminded me of a cross between a carnival and a state fair. With one important difference. Young Hmong men and women, many of them as soon as they hit puberty come here to meet their lifelong partners and get married. They congregate here from not only from all over Laos but significant contingents from Minneapolis!!!! and other U.S. cities as well. All here to try their luck in the marriage game 😍

It seemed that each prospective bride was determined to outdo all the other hopefuls. Their costumes, finery, jewelry, shoes, fishnet stockings and headgear provided the most incredible kaleidoscope of color. It was traditional garb meet mass produced Chinese product.

Judge for yourself.





The brides and grooms stand in lines opposite each other and throw a ball back and forth. If either partner accepts the ball, EXCITEMENT, they meet over the next few days, get to know each other, fall in love and, KICKER, get married in a month. I guess the U.S Hmong do have to get back to regular jobs at some point.

It was absolutely hilarious. And there were hundreds of them playing the marriage game. The testosterone in the air was palpable. I hope the next series of pictures bring this to life.
(The next 3 pictures have to be viewed bottoms up to get the story)




And we also met quite a few of the future hopefuls taking lessons from their ‘elders’.


I know this will be one of the happiest and most memorable moments of the trip.

It was with some sadness that we left Luang Prabang today. We arrived in Vietnam this evening into the welcoming arms of American ‘tradition’, the Hanoi Opera Hilton. It’s in the French quarter and opposite the French built Hanoi Opera house. A Christmas tree twinkled a welcome with traditional Vietnamese garbed dolls as ornaments. And a reminder that it is Christmas Eve tomorrow.


Adios till next time as I say Good Night with one last look at Laos!


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