I’ve mentioned before our property in the Lao jungle, just outside the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. Kamu Lodge is a super special place and I am particularly proud that my company’s portfolio includes this unique “hotel”.
Kamu works in cooperation with the local Kamu Village and in two of my three visits, I’ve made a visit to the village to say hello to the locals. If Luang Prabang is a throw back in time, then Kamu has the ability to strip away all layers of modernization. For the most part, the typical house is made of bamboo. Most all things are accomplished by hand and manual labor and the villagers are unspoiled by greed, and the need to keep up with the Joneses.
Some aspects of Western Culture have crept into their life. Once man had enough money to buy a generator, and so he powers his, and the only television in the village. He sells tickets to the others which in the end allows each family a once-per-month evening of viewing. I have no idea how many channels the TV gets or what’s on. For all I know, it could be Thai dramas which are shown. That would kind of suck, because the Kamu language is more a mixture of Lao and Chinese, not Lao and Thai.
The foundations and roofs of some homes have been exchanged for cement and metal. The group of environmentalists visiting the same day as me did not like this change. They think it destroys the look of the village. While I agree, we cannot prevent the Kamu people from making progress, and if the metal roof provides better protection, is sturdier and doesn’t need to be replaced as often as bamboo-straw sections, then who are we to object?
It’s tough, I must say, to spend any length of time and not want to just give give give. I had an idea to bring clothes and school supplies with me the next time, but actually, doing this outright is not a good solution. It breaks my hear to see small kids in dirty, tattered clothing. But if I just give them a bag, and every foreigner who visits gives them something, then we are guilty of creating a dependency and are likely to perpetuate begging, something this group of people do not do.
My friend Anton knows a hell of a lot more than I do about sustainable tourism and how we as tourists and a hospitality company can better cooperate with the locals, allowing them to be prosperous, but without changing the essence of their culture and without creating a dependency on foreigners. We are also focused on being an environmentally friendly/conscious property, which is a whole other can of worms. It’s something I’d like to learn more about, as I believe our Kamu Lodge is a great little space on the planet for the opportunity it gives us to reconnect with a more simple life, and soak up lots of glorious nature.
Tags: Kamu Village