Some 80 km from the UNESCO listed town of Luang Prabang, sitting between 2 rivers and surrounded by mountains and farmland is the Pak Xeng District. More than 22,000 people call the area home; 70% are native Khmu, while smaller groups of ethnic Lao Lum and Hmong make up the minority.
When Graham Harper, who leads our Educational Travel team, decided 10 years ago to get involved in the community’s development, reaching the closest villages could take long hours, especially during rainy season when nature reclaims its rights on the poorly maintained dirt roads and turns them into riverbeds. The situation has improved a lot in the last few years, but Seuang River remains quite a remote rural area, in need of improvements in sanitation, water supply and education.
The story that links Buffalo Tours with this specific community is very much the story of our local Community Project Facilitator. Native from the area, and member of the Hmong minority, Chipseng has been involved in the project since 2009. At that time, 11 villages participated. After years of cooperation, the project is now 33 villages strong and growing all over the valley.
Our goal was to establish a cooperative business partnership between the Seuang River communities and Buffalo Tours, under the auspices of the Luang Prabang Provincial Tourism Department and Pakxeng District Authority. Together, we created sustainable and responsible tourism activities through the core values of community ownership and independence; competitive and market driven business and equitable distribution of benefits.
Each year, we welcome groups of students from all over the world, for a few days or for a few weeks. They spend their time working on the different projects we are running at the time they visit, from building new classrooms for the local school to teaching English, Chinese or mathematics to Pak Xeng students. Nurses come to implement a better health care system up to 3 times a year, providing the community with accessible healthcare.
Seuang River also welcome tourists into their community and practice community based tourism that benefits everyone. Travellers in Luang Prabang can travel out to Seuang River to immerse themselves in the lives of the villagers, staying with local families, cooking with them and learning their crafts. Trekking, bamboo rafting and blessing ceremonies are brought to life alongside the Seuang River locals who are proud to show off their home.
Not only do guests help the local community improve their lives, but they also receive a great gift; the gift of understanding how people so far away from their home live.
Seung River Project is an exchange. Observing people from all over the world swapping email addresses, facebook, snapchat or whatsapp IDs, and taking selfies with the community, is a delight. A certainty that wherever you come from, you can make friends all over the world!
You can be a part of the Seuang River story by booking a 2 night homestay from Luang Prabang and stepping outside your comfort zone to learn and to exchange. Get in touch with our experts today to plan your Laos journey.
For an example of our educational travel programs, look here.