Zee Crazy Frenchman
This is Antoine, who's French, and actually quite mild mannered. We met in Ventianne and spent several days together doing a tour of the northwest part of Laos.
A typical hilltribe village
There were several different hilltribe peoples in this area, and although they now live beside a good paved road to Muang Sing, they still live a fairly traditional lifestyle. Pigs, fish, goats and chickens augment the diet of rice, bananas, mangoes, onions, squash and many other vegetables. These people practice slash & burn agriculture, and they've converted most hillsides nearby (even very steep ones)into cultivated areas mostly for rice, but also bananas and other fruits. And further off the beaten track, thick jungle is converted into huge opium fields. The thatched roofs are blackened from the smoke wood fires. The elevation here is about 1200 meters.
A typical house in the village where we stayed. This place saw tourists almost daily, and consequently there was more cashflow (from selling weavings) for doing things like changing to metal roofs. The greens out front are scallions. And yes, that's an electrical wire. Most villages along the river now have electricity.