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Romantic Lao-australian love story

A meeting of two cultures

He is Australian, she is Lao; he is tall, she is short; he likes sandwiches but she likes papaya salad - they appear to have nothing in common.

Mr Roger Pea**** and Mrs Bounthavong Keomanyvong stand in front of the Vientiane Times office.

But these differences between two people from different parts of the world and cultures pose no problem for Mr Roger

Pea****, 58, and Mrs Bounthavong Keomanyvong, 57; they love, care for each other and live together in harmony.

After meeting in Melbourne , Australia , in 1967, Mr Pea****, a native of the city, and Mrs Bounthavong, from Pakxan district in Borikhamxay province, slowly developed their relationship over time.

They met each other at university, where she was studying under an AusAID scholarship, fell in love and decided to get married in 1969, since when they have lived as wife and husband and now have a grown-up son.

Mr Pea**** remembers well the first day he met his future wife at university. “The first time I met her, I was struck by how polite she was.”

He admits it was not love at first sight. To begin with they were just good friends who liked to travel around together and have fun but, as time passed, they began to realise they needed each other. Their strength of feeling enabled them to overcome all their differences.

Mr Pea**** says he didn't mind the fact that his wife came from an undeveloped country that he had never visited, and became quite used to her wearing a traditional Lao skirt, dancing the Lamvong and eating Lao food.

“Now there's only one thing I can't share with her and that's papaya salad,” he says with a grin.

Mrs Bounthavong says she found it easy to adjust to life in Australia ; in fact, she was really keen to learn and explore new things as it gave her the chance to become a better person.

Although she now lives a very different lifestyle from that of her childhood, she has never forgotten who she is and where she comes from. She still likes the way of life in Laos , and it is the charm of her Lao-ness that makes her husband love her as he does. “I sometimes wear a sinh because it is so comfortable,” she says.

Mr Pea**** says the reason he gets along so well with his wife is because he always understands and respects differences in others. He says it's impossible for everyone to be the same, but it is possible to enjoy differences.

He is a retired Australian diplomat and has been posted in different countries including Thailand . He says he loves Laos , its culture and people, and always enjoys the smiles he gets as a visiting guest. Lao people are very polite, he says, and always care for other people's feelings and are never confrontational.

“When Australian people want to tell each other to do or change something, they say so very directly, but Lao people do so quite indirectly,” he says, adding that it took him a while to understand this and now realises it is unique to Asian people.

Mr Pea**** now works as a volunteer and is a teacher of English at the Soutsaka Institute of Management and Technology in Vientiane . He receives financial support from the Australian Business Volunteers association and hopes he can contribute his practical and intellectual knowledge to develop human resources, one of the core areas for the future development of Laos .

He says he and his wife first visited Laos in 1978, when it was very different from today. He recalls that, at that time, he saw very few people around at night.

But, as time has passed, circumstances have changed and he says that Lao people now seem to enjoy their life; they can express their opinion and move around at night without any worries.

However, he expresses his concern about development, saying it can bring a great deal of change to communities, especially their identities. He points out that Laos is surrounded by large countries and might suffer as a result of their influence, especially culturally.

He says he d oesn't want to see Laos losing its special identity; as it is his wife's birthplace, he wants to know that this special culture will never disappear.


By Ekaphone Phouthonesy



I think his last name is Peac0ck.  C0ck consideres a bad word.

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