As you might know by now, Laos is not an easily traversable country. The first thing you have to contend with is the fact that you're hemmed in on all sides by jungle. Even going a little bit outside the major cities like Vientiane and Luang Prabang, you'll find things can get a little scary. Laos is not a place you want to get lost in, which is why today we're looking at giving directions in Lao.
This list is so you can give directions to people, but more importantly, so you can understand directions given to you. Speaking and listening are two closely related skills! Let's start with something a little easy to whet your appetite.
Before we go any further, I want to let you know about Ling. First and foremost, Ling is the premier option on the internet to learn Lao and 60 other languages. (If we're being honest, it's just about the only option to learn Lao).
Ling wanted to bring the kind of sleek user interface that made Duolingo so famous and apply it to lesser-known languages, and millions of people on the Play Store and App Store seem to agree!
|Straight ahead||pai su||ໄປຊື່ໆ|
|On the left||yu beuong sai||ຢູ່ເບື້ອງຊ້າຍ|
|On the right||thang khuaa||ທາງຂວາ|
|In front of||to na||ຕໍ່ຫນ້າ|
|Left-hand side||sai mu||ຊ້າຍມື|
|Right-hand side||beuong khuaa||ເບື້ອງຂວາ|
|Traffic light||fai chalachon||ໄຟຈະລາຈອນ|
|Traffic sign||pai chalachon||ປ້າຍຈະລາຈອນ|
|One way||thang diav||ທາງດຽວ|
|By foot||odny tin||ໂດຍຕີນ|
|City centre||chai kangmeuong||ໃຈກາງເມືອງ|
In one word: very.
Thailand has long been known as the land of smiles because of the fantastic friendliness shown by the people, and Laos is very similar.
One thing to say is that Lao people are perhaps a little shyer. Thailand has been welcoming tourists to the country since the 1950s. Tourism in Laos was only confined to a few brave French people, and then when the communist government took power, it fell away to nothing.
Although Lao people may be shyer, once they overcome that shyness, they are more excited to talk to you, especially in the countryside. There is a tremendous amount of novelty still to be found in talking to a westerner, and even if they have no idea where the place is you're looking to go, they'll still try to help you in broken English(which is why learning Lao phrases is so important).
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that before the 1990s, Laos was one of the geographically most inhospitable places in the world. Even roads linking major cities were little more than dirt tracks carved out of the vertiginous jungle. Travelers would get into too many difficulties to think about returning.
That changed, first with the influx of western money and, in recent years, the influx of Chinese money. The Chinese government wants to develop Laos and turn it into a new Macau(whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing is another debate). However, one thing that cannot be argued is that it has made Laos far more accessible. They recently completed a new super highway linking major cities, and further rail and road links are planned for the future.
If you're in a city like Vientiane, then the easiest way to get around is by motorbike. It may sound terrifying to ride a motorbike around a capital city in Asia, but Vientiane is a little different from Hanoi or Bangkok. The traffic is much less. However, if you do decide, know that the dangers are far higher than if you travel by car, and often travel insurance won't pay out if you've been in an accident involving a motorbike.
|Go straight on||pai su||ໄປຊື່ໆ|
|Turn left||liav sai||ລ້ຽວຊ້າຍ|
|Turn right||liav khuaa||ລ້ຽວຂວາ|
|Please stop here||kaluna yud yuthini||ກະລຸນາຢຸດຢູ່ທີ່ນີ້|
|Please wait a moment||kaluna lotha chaknony||ກະລຸນາລໍຖ້າຈັກໜ່ອຍ|
|Wait a second||lotha vinathi||ລໍຖ້າວິນາທີ|
|I'm at...||khonyyu thi||ຂ້ອຍຢູ່ທີ່...|
|It is far from here||man yukaichak thini||ມັນຢູ່ໄກຈາກທີ່ນີ້|
|It takes about 10 minutes||man sai velapaman sib nathi||ມັນໃຊ້ເວລາປະມານສິບນາທີ|
|I got lost||khony sia||ຂ້ອຍເສຍ|
|Follow me||noa khony ma||ນໍາຂ້ອຍມາ|
|Go with me||pai kab khony||ໄປກັບຂ້ອຍ|
|Where is the bathroom?||Hong nam yu sai?||ຫ້ອງນໍາ້ຢູ່ໃສ?|
Lao is a Tai Kadai language spoken not just in Lao but in parts of Thailand too. Now is the time to learn!
We hope this blog helped, especially regarding those more difficult things to understand, like the Lao people and Lao culture. Learning Lao phrases and the Lao alphabet certainly helps with this, but reading this blog is probably the best thing you can do.
Living in a foreign country is no joke, and neither is learning a new language (especially if it's a tonal language,)
You need all the help you can get, which is why downloading an app like Ling is so useful. Ling uses authentic Lao speakers, so you have that perfect Vientiane dialect.
But what exactly does Ling do? Well, if you speak English natively, it presents you with a well-structured course in English. You learn the Lao script from examples of Lao text as well as gaining listening, speaking, and vocabulary practice.
Thanks for reading and see you next time.