Rice Farming 101: Learning in Laos

rice farming laos
Living Land Farm in Laos. Rice Farming

What’s in Your Bowl: The Surprising 14-Step Process of Rice Farming

By Sam

Plowing a rice paddy with a water buffalo.
Plowing a rice paddy with a water buffalo.

Travel favors the curious as you can learn a lot about the world experiencing it in person. Curiosity is also a helpful career skill that drives innovation and advancement, which is part of our series of articles that focus on the various career skills that can be developed through travel.

World’s Staple Food

Rice is a staple food product in much of the world because it’s inexpensive, filling, and goes with pretty much anything. When you travel through Southeast Asian countries like Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia, you see huge rice paddies sprinkled all over the countryside. Rice farming is a way of life here.

I’ll be honest—I never really gave the process of rice farming much thought. But I learned from my time in Luang Prabang that when it’s done in the traditional way, it’s very time consuming, laborious, and messy. Learning about rice farming provides a really interesting perspective about the work that goes into growing such an everyday food.

I promise you, visit the Living Land Farm and you’ll never look at a bowl of rice in the same way again.

RRice Paddies and a Kondauna Made of Rice Stalks to Protect the Rice
Rice Paddies and a Kondauna Made of Rice Stalks to Protect the Rice

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former capital of Laos. The historic center may be a sleepy and small town, though Luang Prabang is packed full of fun things to do.

Take a boat ride on the Mekong, give alms to local monks in the Tak Bat alms-giving ceremony, hike the sacred Mount Phousi, visit the many beautiful temples or shop in the night market.

And that’s not all, because one of the most popular places to see in all of Laos is just outside of Luang Prabang. The stunning Kuang Si Falls is a beautiful cascade of turquoise blue falls in the jungle.

Swim in the beautiful crystal-blue pools to get a break from the heat and humidity and you’ll quickly learn why this is one of the most popular trips in the entire country.

The Living Land Company

To get the most of your time in Luang Prabang, a visit to the Living Land Company is a must. It’s a small and charming organic community farm located in the countryside with a patchwork of rice paddies surrounded by beautiful mountains.

This community project supports Luang Prabang In a number of ways. The farm offers English classes for the children free of charge and they provide jobs to the locals to help support the economy. They also raise and sell organic produce and flowers in the local market.

The farm doesn’t sell the rice that they produce but they give it to village families in need. It’s a worthy cause to support the local people and they offer a really interesting tour as well.

Calm Tranquility

An additional option to get to know the farm and to enjoy the calm tranquility it offers is to stay at the homestay on the property. It’s rustic but has western amenities and they also have a restaurant onsite.

Living Land Farm
Homestay at Living Land Farm, Laos.

Living Land Company Rice Experience Tour

The rice tour provides an introduction to the farm and the community work that they do and then walks you through the process of rice farming and preparing it for consumption. Your guide walks you around the farm and also shows you the fields where they grow flowers, fruit, and vegetables.

Living Land Farm Video

But, this isn’t a “view it from the sidelines” kind of tour! You are able to get involved as much as you want to and that means getting dirty jumping into rice paddies.

If you want to know just how much work it is to bring that bowl of rice to your table, now’s your chance to dig in and learn all about rice farming!

My tour guide was Mua, a 17-year old boy in his last year of school who had worked at the Living Land Farm for 3 years. He works over the weekend to help support his family. His English is very good and he was benefiting from the farm’s English classes as well as practicing on the tours. He is grateful for the opportunity he was given and was aware of just how lucky he was.

Rice Farming: An Intense Process

Can you ever look at a bowl of rice in the same way again after knowing what an intense process it is to cultivate it? The farm serves up a tray of sweet rice treats for your hard work. You’ll be tired after this tour, and it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to do this for a full day. Makes my 9-to-5 job sitting at a desk seem so much easier now!

A plate of sweet rice treats rice farming in Laos
A plate of sweet rice treats

Rice Experience Tour Information

The rice tour can be booked online at the Living Land Farm website, or your local hotel or hostel can book it for you. Your booking includes pickup and drop-off from your hotel or hostel and an approximately 3-hour tour on the farm. You can purchase the tour with or without lunch.

Note: This tour includes walking on uneven ground and may not be appropriate for all people.

There are a lot of fun things to do during your visit in Luang Prabang and choosing can be a challenge, but if you’re looking for an informative, interesting, and unique experience that benefits the local community, look no further than the Living Land Company Rice Experience.

You will never look at a bowl of rice in the same way again.

How This All Relates to Curiosity as a Job Skill

Travel is all about learning, both about the world around us and internally for our own personal growth. We learn about different people, different cultures, and different ways of doing things when we travel and that in turn, stretches us and our ability to take those learnings to continue to find better ways of thinking, doing, and feeling. Curiosity is what fuels our desire to travel and to feed our knowledge. It’s what sparks our path of learning.

It’s a great idea when you’re traveling to really immerse where you’re going and to find things to do that will expand your mind. That’s why I chose to do this tour at the Living Land Co. I could have chosen another fun activity, but I don’t think I would have learned as much as I did.

Now, I not only understand exactly how much effort goes into the rice that i regularly eat, but I have seen some of the faces behind it. It means something to me now when I see rice and I can internalize the efforts of the hard-working farmers who make a huge difference in the world.

How Can I Make Things Better?

This is the lens that I take back to my career. My love of travel and insatiable curiosity lead me to question the status quo and to always dig in to understand to see how I can make things better. Quality matters, and as a Project Manager, the customers and stakeholders I serve appreciate my willingness to jump in to truly understand their needs so I can meet them.

It also helps me to establish better and deeper connections with people as they recognize when I ask questions that I genuinely want to understand their viewpoint and how I can help them. That’s what travel has taught me, and how my curiosity has paid dividends in my work-life.

Trip Advisor Reviews of Living Land Farm

SamSam is a travel-obsessed animal lover with big plans to travel the world with her dog. When she’s not blogging about her travel adventures at My Flying Leap, you can find her volunteering with her pet-therapy cat and dog, on the top of a mountain, or enjoying a glass of bold red wine planning for her next trip. You can follow Sam on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.

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