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ABOUT THE PAVIE MISSION

The market

"The market road is 1200 metres long. The women set up their stalls on the sides. There are no special constructions; each sells either under a shelter she has installed or in the open air. There are princesses selling fabrics, clothes, and objects from Europe, and primitive people selling vegetables, rattan shoots, banana flowers, and birds that have been caught in traps or shot with cross-bows. The Laotians from Luang Prabang sell cotton yarn and material. It is they who best display betel lime of a rare whiteness, wax for lips and fresh fish. One would never have believed what an attraction this promenade between 8 and 11 o’clock could be. Everything is clean. None of those condiments with a repugnant odour like the fish water from Cochinchina, the shrimp paste from Siam or the crushed fish from Cambodia which makes a tour of the native markets disagreeable to the European. Each merchant sits on a rattan stool by his display, on fresh leaves if it is buffalo meat, pork or fish, on bamboo wattling covered by a mat if the merchandise is dry ... [The Natives] do not find it repugnant to eat the flesh of various beasts which we would not touch unless there was a famine. They cannot see why eating a mole is not just as good as eating pork. However used one is to these habits, it does not seem any less strange to us to see doves with rats on oranges, or bats between a bouquet of flowers and fish, in the elegant baskets of ladies returning from the market. What is most striking about this great daily provisions fair is the silence, a very dominant note." (Pavie. Description of the Luang Prabang market)