See Laos with ‘See’

In October, 2009, after spending two weeks in Siem Reap, I headed off to Luang Prabang, Laos, which was my first stop on my first visit to this beautiful and intriguing country. Because many people combine Siem Reap and Luang Prabang, I wanted to introduce you to the fantastic guide, and in the end friend, I had in Luang Prabang.

First the key details: His name is Bouasy Souliya (‘See’ for short) and he can be reached at seelaos [at] hotmail.com or +856-20-55872149.

Thanks to the advice and help of some fellow Tripadvisor travelers I got in touch with See

who is a registered guide and driver in Luang Prabang. I spent two great days with him seeing the area sights. He is extremely knowledgeable, incredibly hospitable and helpful and speaks excellent English. After he picked me up at the airport he sorted me out with a Lao sim card, drove me around town for a good orientation and then we talked about what we could do for a couple of days of touring. He has a perfect van with all the amenities (aircon, cold water, Pepsi, refresh towels, even fresh-picked bananas one day).

Besides the usual things (Pak Ou, waterfalls, etc) we spent one half day visiting some villages in the surrounding mountains. One was a Khmu village and the other a Hmong village. These are places that you won’t normally get to with the tuk tuk tourist services. And even though I saw one tuk tuk offering Khmu and Hmong villages, if they are the same ones See took me to, it is not a drive you want to make in the back of a tuk tuk. And the tuk tuk driver is just going to drop you off, wait for you and take you back. He is not going to guide your walk-about with stories, explanations and encounters with villagers.

In the Hmong village I had quite a surprising and memorable spontaneous interaction with a lovely deaf young woman who makes traditional Hmong clothing which will become I think one of the highlights of my visit. I had prints made of the pictures I took with this woman and some local kids and See will make sure they get the pictures on his next visit there. I also got to visit and walk through See’s own village and meet his family. With his translation I was able to ask questions to people we met along our walks.

Admittedly you can get to most of the local places in a tuk tuk for less money as you will be one of many to climb aboard. But because the tuk tuk only takes you there and back, and the driver generally speaks no foreign languages, you won’t be able to have the kind of extensive conversations I had with See had about Laos and its history, society, politics, education system, Buddhism, village life, etc. Perhaps I would have seen almost as much but I wouldn’t have learned a fraction of what I did with See.

This is an incredible city and beautiful and quite intriguing country. But the only way to get some deeper insight into what it’s really all about is to spend time with a knowledgeable local who is eager to share his country with you one-on-one. See is the guy to do that with! And he can not only show you around LP and area but can also guide you on overnight trips to places a bit further away and even multi-day trips to places all over the country.

So if you are heading this way and want to get the most out of your stay, I urge you to see Laos with See. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss further.

See can be reached at seelaos [at] hotmail.com or +856-20-55872149. He doesn’t check his email every day since he lives out of town in a small village but he always replies within a couple of days.

(Thinking of visiting the temples of Angkor Wat? Don’t forget to check out my friend Savuth’s tuk tuk services!)

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~ by Leonard on August 4, 2010.

2 Responses to “See Laos with ‘See’”

  1. I have sent See an email on his yahoo about 2 weeks ago (last Sept 2011), but he doesn’t answer yet. I also sent him an sms, but bounce back.

    I will visit Luang Prabang in January 2012 with my aunties and cousins. During our 3 days stay, it would be better if we have a van and a guide to get us around the city and the neighborhoods.

    Could you give me another See’s email address and cellphone number can be reached?

    Thank you for your help.

  2. Hi Indah,

    I have also had trouble getting in touch with See. The last time we talked I learned there were quite some problems in his family and he was working a lot in the rice fields. It could be that at the moment he is not doing guide work which would be very unfortunate. My suggestion would be to ask your hotel/guesthouse to arrange someone. You may want to wait until you are there do arrange something in any case since the town itself is quite compact and you may discover that for visiting things in town like the palace/museum and the many beautiful temples, and walking along the rivers that you may not need a car and guide. Have a great trip. LP is a magical little city.

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