A+ A A-

The Fortunes of Ai Powlo

Once upon a time a father and mother had a wicked son whose name was Ai Powlo. One day, while in the rice fields together, the father sent the son to his mother with a message. Instead, however, of delivering the message, Ai Powlo said his father had been eaten by a tiger. Leaving his mother in great distress, he returned to the rice fields and told his father that both his mother and the house were burned, and, for three days, did the father mourn for his wife, as he lay in the watchhouse.

While the father was mourning, Ai Powlo moved his mother and the house to a new place and then sought his father, saying, “I saw a woman in a new house by the stream who resembles my mother. Would you like her for a wife?”
“If my son seeks her for me, I would be thankful,” replied the father.
Going to his mother, Ai Powlo said, “I have a man who would make thee a good husband. He would work in the rice fields. Will you take him for a husband?”
Thinking of the work, the mother said, “I will. Go, bring him to me, my son.”

Lo, when the father and mother met, they recognized one another, and they knew their crafty son had deceived them!

As Ai Powlo fled from the wrath of his mother and father, he journeyed many days, and, upon a day it happened he stole some pork from a Chinaman. Taking the pork, he sought the rice fields and there he saw an old man at work. Running up to him, he called, “Father, do you not hunger for some pork? I have some to share with you.”
“I do, my son,” replied the old man.
Together they went to the watchhouse to cook the pork, but found no pot there.
“Whilst I make a fire, go thou, my son, to my house and ask my wife for a pot.”
“Your husband wants you to give me all the money in the house, as he has heard of an
elephant which he can buy now,” said Ai Powlo to the wife.
The wife refused to give it to him and Ai Powlo called to the husband, who sat by the
watchhouse waiting for the pot, “She will not give it to me.” The old man called back, as he was hungry for the pork, “Give it to him. Make haste,” and receiving all their store, Ai Powlo fled into another province.

Upon a day, as Ai Powlo walked by the highway, he saw four bald-headed men pouring water on their heads to cool themselves. Running up to them, he said, “I know a medicine which will make the hair grow. Rub your heads until the skin is broken, whilst I make the medicine.”
Taking some red peppers, he pounded them to a soft paste, put some salt in it, and then handed it to the four simple-minded old men, who had already rubbed their heads until they bled.

Having used the medicine, they suffered great pain and would have killed Ai Powlo, but he fled and took refuge with the chow, to whom he said, “I saw four old men on the way, who butted their heads together, trying to see which could overcome the other. All have much strength, and their heads are scratched and bleeding.” Even as Ai Powlo spoke to the chow, the chow espied the men, and, when they came up, he commanded them, saying, “If you are able thus to wrestle for your own pleasure, you can wrestle for my pleasure.” Not daring to disobey the command of the chow, the men painfully wrestled.

While they struggled, Ai Powlo, fearing their wrath, fled, and as he fled, he fell into a deep stream and was drowned.
Many years after, two fishermen were fishing in the stream, and as they drew in the net, they found not a fish, but a skull, and lo, the skull both laughed and mocked!
As the fishermen talked together of the curious skull, a man with a boat-load of goods approached, and they called to him, asking, “Did you ever see a skull which laughed and mocked?”
“Never did I see such a skull, nor ever will I believe there is such a thing,” replied the man. “If we show you such a skull, what will you give unto us?” asked the fishermen.
“All the goods in my boat,” laughingly answered the man.

On beholding the skull, which, of a truth did both laugh and mock him, the boatman
forfeited his goods, but, in his anger, he cut the skull and broke it into pieces, and, of these pieces he made dice with which to gamble, and was it not fitting, as Ai Powlo, whose skull it was, in life had but deceived, and ever done evil?

This content is from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Laos Folk-Lore of Farther India, by Katherine Neville Fleeson, originally published 1899.
This content is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License at www.gutenberg.net


Travel Information
Visas, borders, roads, planes...
Local Information
Phones, climate, health...
Historical Information
Siam, independence...

An Adventure


Trekking is a great way to explore the mountains and forests of Laos. You can journey to waterfalls and caves, visit remote ethnic villages, investigate remnants of ancient cultures and temples and...

Read more


Rivers in Laos offer many exciting opportunities for adventure. Flowing through jungle, gorges and caves, they can be wildly exciting and soothingly quiet in equal measure. There is ample scope for both...

Read more


Ethnic groups in Lao are diverse and interesting. Villages outside of the main centres differ widely from one another, in culture, craft, language and custom. There are many minority culture spread across Laos...

Read more


Elephants, Laos was once known as the land of a million Elephants. Once these majestic animals were the mainstay of travelling, hauling long distance and logging. Even as recently as the Vietnam...

Read more


Climbing is a fairly new activity in Laos. So far, the only officially opened areas for climbing are in Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. With the spectacular limestone landscape in Vang Vieng, north...

Read more

Buffalo Skin Snacks

If, like me, you've wondered what the strips of dried animal hide, being sold at markets and by the side of the road, are for... They are dried Buffalo Hide...

Read more

Lao Clams

Lao Stir Fried clams 1 1/2 lbs clams, with shells2 garlic cloves2 hot chilies1 tablespoon fish sauce1 tablespoon sugar1 tablespoon oyster sauce1 tablespoon oil10 basil leaves1/4 cup water Soak clams for two...

Read more

Lao Cucumber Salad

1 large cucumber5 -8 cherry tomatoes2 lime wedges5 -9 Thai chiles1 garlic clove1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste1/4 teaspoon crab, paste1 -2 tablespoon fish sauce1 teaspoon sugar1/8 teaspoon msg (optional, can use...

Read more

Chicken Lahp

Chicken lahp with vegetables and variations - lahp gai pak gap Ingredients for a Lao raw or cooked meat lahp are extremely variable reflecting a cuisine which is prepared with whatever...

Read more

Tam Mahk Houng

Tam Mahk Houng - Lao Papaya Spicy Salad 2 cups shredded papayas1 garlic clove4 chilies1 tablespoon shrimp paste1/4 tablespoon crab, paste1 tablespoon fish sauce1 scant teaspoon msg (optional)1 tablespoon fermented fish...

Read more

The Boat Landing Guest House and Restaur…

Luang Namtha Province in Laos has more than you may know about...Beautiful landscapes, wonderful people, nature rich in biodiversity, adventure and delightful cuisine. Come and discover Ecotourism at its best! Luang...

Read more
  1. Historic
  2. See
  3. Taste

19th Century Photos

Read more

19th Century Photos

Read more

19th Century Photos

Read more
  • 19th Century Photos
  • 19th Century Photos
  • 19th Century Photos

National Protected Areas

Read more


Read more


Read more
  • National Protected Areas
  • Adventure
  • Attractions

Tam Mahk Houng

Read more

Chili Dips

Read more

Gaeng Bawt

Read more
  • Tam Mahk Houng
  • Chili Dips
  • Gaeng Bawt

Popular Attractions

Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars (Lao: ທົ່ງໄຫຫິນ [tʰōŋ hǎj hǐn]) is a megalithic archaeological landscape in Laos. Scattered in the landscape of the Xieng Khouang plateau, Xieng Khouang, Lao PDR, are...

Read more


Patuxai (Lao: ປະຕູໄຊ, literally meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, formerly the Anousavary or Anosavari Monument, known by the French as Monument Aux Morts) is a war monument in...

Read more

Bolivan Plateau

The Bolivan Plateau is an elevated region in southern Laos. Most of the plateau is located within Champasak Province of Laos, though the edges of the plateau are also located...

Read more

Royal Palace Luang Prabang

The Royal Palace (official name "Haw Kham") in Luang Prabang, Laos, was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The site for...

Read more

Si Phan Dong

Si Phan Don (Lao: ສີພັນດອນ; meaning The 4000 islands) is a riverine archipelago located in the Mekong River, Champasak Province in southern Laos. Si Phan Don is characterised by numerous islands...

Read more

 Elephant Conservation Center logo

 Elephant Conservation Center

The Elephant Conservation Center hosts Laos' first hospital dedicated to elephants that are victims of logging accidents or affected by diseases. The center is staffed with an international team of elephant vets and offers free veterinary care services, an emergency unit, a breeding center, a mahout vocational center and the most extensive elephant information center in country. 
Click here to visit the Elephant Conservation Centre


This organisation was set up by a former fire-fighter and nurse who worked for the Red Cross on emergency assistance. He gathered around him a team of 34 dedicated people from Lao and trained them in first aid. It is registered under the Lao Foundation to assist the poor and was established in 2006.

Exo Foundation

Choice Hotels Laos

Selected Hotels, Resorts, Ecolodges and Cruises, each destination is a tourist attraction in its own right. The Individualist’s Guide to Discover Laos along National Route 13 from China to Cambodia coordinated...

Read more

If you would like to appear
on this website, please send
a message to us on the
Administration contact form,
which can be found in the
Contact/Administration section
of this website.


We liked the Elephant Trekking in Champasak and the shopping in the Pakse markets. J&S Gentner.
F. White.