Another memorable and heart-warming experience as a new father. Over the weekend we held a Sukwan or “Calling of the Souls”, (Blessing Ceremony) for Estelle as she nears 9 months old. Instead of holding the event in Seattle, our current residence, we decided to hold the blessing in Kennewick, WA., the town I grew up in. This town is where the majority of my aunt’s, uncle’s and cousin’s reside along with all of my parents friends who watched me grow up, so it was the natural place to have a blessing for Estelle, allowing them the opportunity to meet her while also getting blessed by each one of them. During the ceremony each guest is allowed the opportunity to tie a piece a yarn around Estelle’s wrist while offering her their blessings and prayers of good fortune and health.

I’ve been to many Sukwan’s over the years and have always thought the ceremony to be a beautiful part of Lao culture in it’s significance and meaning as the ceremony is held for marriages, births, monkship etc., however I never completely immersed myself in the process until this one held for my daughter. I totally love the direct translation of the Su-Kwan, which is the “Calling of the Souls”, how cool is that! The way I understand it is that each person has 32 Kwan’s (Souls/Spirits) that reside within their body, taking care of your health and well being. At times these spirits however venture away from your body so this ceremony calls them all back to allow your body to once again be centered and in harmony.

I’ve attached a few links that explains in detail what a Su-Kwan ceremony is about and the significance of each aspect of the ceremony.

Wikepedia.org
laoheritagefoundation.org

liveLAO’d
Jot

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Little Laos in HD

by cubiclejot on October 13, 2012

I was messing around on youtube and stumbled upon this really neat video created by a guy named Joerg Daiber. The video is titled, “Little Laos.”

This short video really captures the beauty of the country, serene and full of vibrant colors. Takes me back to my trip to Laos from 7 years back. I hope things don’t change to much upon my return.

liveLao’d,
CubicleJOT

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Lao Wedding: Continued

by cubiclejot on March 30, 2012

I’m back and happy to announce that I am now a married man! A few blogs ago I was contemplating a big Lao wedding or a tropical beach wedding. We ended up going with the tropical beach wedding in Maui and are so happy with our decision. If I had a word to describe the day I would say, “magical”. Aside from the power outage two hours before our wedding everything went better then planned.  We were truly blessed that day, surrounded by loving family and friends. We could not have asked for a better wedding.

As the festivities were going on I stepped back to take in the moment. I glanced over the crowd and I thought to myself wow, how far we had come. I was looking out at 3 generations of our family all laughing, dancing and having a good time on a Maui beachfront property with beautiful waves crashing in the background. What a huge contrast from where our family started in this country.

My family immigrated to the US in 1982 and we started out living in a two-bedroom apartment. The three older girls that were in their teens shared one room (my sister, and two cousins) the other room was shared by my parents and the younger kids (my brother, my sister and myself). So eight people in a two-bedroom apartment, can you imagine? This was where our American dream began……(For another blog).

Without going into great detail of my family history I just wanted to say how grateful I am. At one point during the wedding I got this proud feeling about myself, “I made all this happen!”  I actually pulled off a destination wedding in Maui!  but then I saw my smiling parents and realized that they are truly the ones that made everything possible. Every accomplishment, every opportunity, everything I have in my life is due to the sacrifices and struggles made by them. All the parents and grandparent that made that leap of faith and immigrated to the US deserve so much credit for all they have done.

Live LAO’d,
Jot

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Duck Blood Halftime

by cubiclejot on February 6, 2012

I was more excited about the Lao duck blood dish (larb leut bhet) served at my cousins house during halftime then the Super Bowl game.

Don’t let the appearance of the dish and the fact that it’s duck blood deter you from trying this dish when you get a chance. I had a taste many, many years ago and it has become one of my favorite Lao dishes ever since. It’s so good I need to learn how to make this, maybe a future blog post!

liveLAO’d,
CubicleJOT

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Lao Wedding or Not?

by cubiclejot on January 21, 2012


Guess what! I’m getting married! I was trying to keep my wedding plans out of liveLAO’d, but the first thing on my mind this morning is the wedding. It’s getting close to the big day and I’m feeling nervous and excited at the same time. A lot of things are running through my mind right now, so why not share what I’m going through with all 1 million liveLAOD.com readers. As much as I am gangsta about showing my Lao Pride and incorporating Lao traditions in my life, this wedding of mine may not have any Lao wedding traditions incorporated, except for maybe having plenty of Hennesey.

My fiancé is a Filipina who grew up in Guam. Her idea of a dream wedding is a tropical island wedding, with palm trees and waves crashing around in the background. On the other hand my idea of a wedding,( I’m not going to say dream wedding because that would include elephants, contortionists, unicorns and hobbits) is to carry a sword wearing my traditional Lao wedding attire including the MC Hammer pants. As silly as it sounds I wanted to look like the King of Laos for the day. I secretly wanted my family and friends parading me down the neighborhood towards the brides house while they danced and sang the lyrics “Here comes the son in law”. I did envision my best man holding an umbrella over me while I carried my suitcase (not sure what goes in the suitcase but I figure a pair of clean underwear) walking towards the brides house. I pictured my dad negotiating at the front door of the brides house with excitement and flare, the back and forth banter with the designated brides family, following would be numerous shots of alcohol. The brides family would invite the entourage and the groom into the house and if the invitation to enter was to slow the entourage would bully their way through the door. This tradition has always been what I had envisioned for myself.

Now as the wedding day gets closer I continue to think about the traditions that I am missing out on, including the big, really big Lao wedding, probably with 400 people or more in attendance. After many long conversations between the two of us and our parents we opted out of the big Lao Wedding “for now.” We decided our wedding is going to be in Maui with a guest list of about 50 people, our closest friends and family. We figure what is more important, celebrating with 400 people in which 70% of the folks we barely know, or go somewhere tropical for rest and relaxation and have a nice intimate wedding in the process. Some of you are probably thinking, “boy, you are so Amelican.” and its true I am definitely straying from our traditions and this wedding will be very much a western wedding. There is still hope though, my dad hasn’t completely ruled out the big wedding and still has grand ideas. The Lao wedding may still happen,but if it didn’t what will I be missing out on? I decided to lookup Lao wedding traditions and found these really interesting facts, photos and history which I got from www.laos-guide-999.com/a>

*The ceremony starts with the Grooms Entourage parading him over to the brides house. Where back and forth banter takes place to get into the home. Drinking usually ensues.

*A traditional Lao wedding is usually held at the bride’s family home. The wedding ceremony can take place either in the morning or afternoon. In the past it was always in the morning which was believed to be best time for a joyful celebration such as wedding ceremony to take place, whereas the afternoon is considered the time for sad ceremonies like cremations.

*The wedding preparations start with the sou khor (bride-price negotiation) procession. The bride-price is usually money and gold, but it can be anything valuable. These days the practice is usually done for show and if there is gold or diamonds the valuables are for the bride herself and not for the brides family.

*The wedding date has to be on a good day in lunar calendar, so parents of either or both sides usually consult elders or senior ex-monks, who have good knowledge of Lao custom and tradition, before the wedding date is set. A wedding should not take place during the three months khao phansa (Buddhist Lent, late July – late October). (My dad and I went through this and you need to pick a day that has a full moon. The fuller the moon the better.)

*The night before the Lao wedding takes place, an informal ceremony is held at the bride-to-be’s home, and sometimes the groom holds the same ceremony at his place as well. This is call an oun dong (wedding or marriage warming) and it only involves close friends and relatives who come to help with wedding preparations as well as to eat and drink. The things to prepare include pha khoun (handmade marigold pyramid made of banana leaves), food for the big day and the new couple’s bedroom. In this room tradition demands the bed must be made by the mother of the bride or an older female who has a good family (with a good husband and good children and who is not divorced, or a widow).

*On the big day, the bride is dressed with a traditional Lao silk sinh (Lao skirt), and silk blouse, and has her hair tied up in a special way with gold decoration. This ensemble is finished off with a gold necklace, bracelets, earrings and a bell.

*The groom also gets dressed up usually with white or cream coloured silk shirt and a traditional silk salong (a pair of baggy pants). Sometimes grooms wear normal pants and suits as some find salongs uncomfortable.

*On the wedding day a Baci(also spelt basi) or sou khuan (a spirit enhancing) ceremony is held. After everyone is settled in, the baci or sou khuan ceremony begins. This involves the chanting by the master of ceremony (mor phon), the egg feeding (the bride and the groom feed each other an egg) and the tying of white strings on wrists to unite the couple. At the end of the baci, the elder relatives lead the couple to somma (a customary asking for forgiveness and thanking of parents and elder relatives of both parties). This process involves the giving of small money gifts (wrapped inside banana leaves, together with flowers and a pair of candles). During this ceremony, the elders, including the parents and relatives of both parties, give the couple good wishes.The bride and the groom somma their parents.

*The Lao wedding ceremony ends with the sending of the couple to their room. The elder female relative will lead the groom to the room and the bride follows behind. Traditionally, the couple is supposed to stay in their room until the next morning, however these days after the traditional ceremony the big Lao wedding reception begins.

Live LAO’d,
CubicleJOT

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Christmas Present – Padek

by cubiclejot on December 29, 2011

The best Christmas present ever. Love my Aunt’s homemade pineapple infused padek (Lao fish sauce). It’s awesome in papaya salad!

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Rush Hour 3 – Lao Voice Over

by cubiclejot on December 11, 2011

Thanks for sharing Tommy. Can’t stop laughing! Fits perfectly.

Summary translation for those that don’t speak. Starts out with the two just getting done eating Papaya Salad that was a little too spicy. They get in the car and want to listen to Lao Mor Lum Music – “country music”. The driver only has Sting so they begin arguing.

liveLAO’d,
CubicleJOT

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Lao Coffee by Breyting

by cubiclejot on October 8, 2011

Waking up to a nice Saturday morning, sipping on a cup of Lao Coffee. Last week my cousin found a bag of coffee at Marshalls labeled “Lao Whole Bean Coffee”. She thought of me and bought me a few bags.

The bag of coffee is produced by Breyting (Icelandic definition: Change) a privately owned company. I got curious about what they were all about so found their website, Breyting.com. It turns out this company is doing pretty cool things. The company focuses on profit but at the same time on helping the farmers that they work with. Breyting products contributes to raising support to remove millions of unexploded bombs left over from the Vietnam War. They support community development and providing anti-venom for snake bites. They also realize that Women’s work still remains undervalued, underpaid, and unrecognized within the countries their coffee beans are grown. Breyting® is seeking to improve this situation by directly investing with Women farmers.

LiveLAOd,
CubicleJOT

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Vientiane Economy Growing

by cubiclejot on August 10, 2011

With the US and European financial markets/economy taking a nose dive it’s good to know that the capital of Laos is doing well. How does this help me? It doesn’t, but maybe we should throw some money into Laos….wait I mean invest money.

What the Bangkok Post had to say:

The economy of Vientiane grew 12% in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, with GDP of 21,437 billion kip (80 billion baht) as of June 30, officials said.

The Laotian capital welcomed 948,000 tourists in the nine-month period to June 30, primarily from Thailand, generating US$85 million in spending, the Vientiane Times reported.

During the same period, authorities approved 7,300 billion kip (27 billion baht) worth of investment projects, an 84% increase from the same period of the previous fiscal year. dpa

liveLAO’d,
CubicleJOT

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Lao Kite Making

by cubiclejot on July 24, 2011

As first generation Lao kids growing up, our parents weren’t able to provide the latest toys or video games, so we learned to improvise and created activities and toys of our own. My older brother was always the mastermind behind every game and activity. One of these activities was making home made kites out of newspapers, usually the free Giant Nickel advertisement paper. These kites my brother used to make, in my memory flew so high that you could almost lose sight of it in the sky.

Over the weekend on my visit back home I asked my brother the mastermind behind all things fun now turned Engineer, if he could make a kite for his 4 year-old daughter. I wanted her to experience one of my fondest memories as a kid and secretly I just wanted to run around and fly our cool homemade Lao kite.

Being the younger brother my role has always been to assist in the making process. Hold here, cut there, get this, and get that and now 25+ years later, guess what I had to do during the kite making process.….. hold here, cut there, get this, and get that. This time around though I got some help. My little niece got to share the assistant kite making responsibilities with me and she did an awesome job.

I posted a few photos to give you an idea of how to make your own homemade Lao Kite! This is a great activity to do with your family, while creating some lasting memories. If you want more instructions and step-by-step photos let me know, I just didn’t want to fill the whole page with photos.

I would love to see what you guys make so feel free to share your kite photos here at liveLAOd.com!  Also you guys might ask why I call this a Lao kite.  If you’re up for the challenge don’t use any tape but instead sticky rice to hold the kite together!

live Lao’d,
CubicleJOT

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