Occasionally, I would time my inspection visits to the farm to coincide with the end of the construction work day. Of course, I’d bring along some Leo’s, the favorite beer of Isaan guys. Women do not generally drink alcohol.
There is a bit of protocol to beer drinking in
Lao and they’re pretty much the same. Glasses are filled with ice, by the host
or person buying, using a metal spoon or ice tongs (using fingers is considered
loso – OK
to do for your own, but not for others, unless there’s absolutely nothing else
you can use). Beer is slowly poured into the glasses tilted at an angle to
minimize the head of the foam. Once the glasses are filled, they are given to
their respective drinker. Usually a toast of “Son Kiao” (Thai) or “Som
Jak” (Lao) is made and glasses clicked. It is the Thai/Lao equivalent of
After the initial set-up, anyone can fill another’s glass with either beer or ice or both. This is most always done, as it is a sign of respect and appreciation. To have someone’s glass go empty or even half empty (especially when making a toast) would be considered a poor reflection on how you “take care.” Once a 640 ML bottle is finished, anyone is free to open the next one and fill glasses – always others first.
(Notable in the picture above: top of the bed is split bamboo. Lott’s hand is resting on his “Mechanical Buffalo” and you can see the attached cart stretching out to the upper left. Sandwich-type grill hanging on the left; underneath is my bag that I carry with camera, phones, notebooks, money, lighter, glasses, keys, mosquito lotion and more)