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  7. The pottery village

15 minutes by boat from Luang Prabang

Situated on the opposite bank of the Mekong River, at a 10 minute boat-ride downstream from Luang Prabang (expect to pay 3 to 7 dollars for the return fare) the 300 inhabitants of the small village of Ban Tchan (written also Ban Tjan or Ban Chan), have specialized themselves on manufacturing pottery and bricks (which are much used in Luang Prabang) as well as terracotta tiles.

The raw material is taken from the surrounding area, mixed, processed, handled, shaped and fired on the site. Everybody participates in this activity, even the children amuse themselves by creating small objects representing animals, vases and ash trays… Prices can easily be negotiated for these small items.

If you insist, you can try and create something for yourself with help from little expert Laotian hands.

The local manufacturing techniques have stayed a natural craftsmanship and are worth while seeing. To heat the ovens, they need at least 4 whole days, during which time, they work out a relay system to burn several dozen wooden beams (see photo).

When the ovens have reached the right temperature, that is stocked enough heat, it’s time to put the items in the oven. When they’ve been fired, they are left to settle, several days below ground (see photo). This is a process that has been done in this way, for generations.

The village and its pagoda that has been undergoing renovation for 7 years (with the contribution of the French travel agency, "Maison d’Indochine", is distinctive. Only the bungalows that have been constructed along the Mekong river’s banks, remind us of tourism and its inherent luxuries.

My advice : Go preferably in the morning

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