by RICHARD WANGLUE VANG
SUAB HMONG TRAVEL — This trip was a very special trip for me to see the area where my family used to live.
Phou Pha Thi is a remote mountain in Houaphanh Province, northeastern Laos. The mountain, which is about 1,700 meters (5,600 ft) high, is located within the former Royal Lao Army’s Military Region 2. The mountain is about 24 kilometers (15 mi) from the border of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and 48 kilometers (30 mi) away from Sam Neua city.
Click here to watch the Suab Hmong Travel Special Edition of my trip to Phou Pha Thi, the memory of my family.
My great grandfather “Wanglue Vang” was a second generation Hmong who migrated from China and settled in a village called “Hoy ChaVieng.” “Hoy ChaVieng” is located on the lower end south of Phou Pha Thi. He was one of the leaders for the Hmong Sam Neua.
My father “Kiatou Wanglue Vang,” best known as Captain Kiatou Vang of Phou Pha Thi or in Hmong “Niag Tsua,” worked for the Lao King Royal Army. The Lao King Royal Army secured the Northern Part of Laos. Captain Kiatou Vang is known as a great leader in the Hmong history in the Hmong Sam Neua group. He used to live in a village called “Pha Thi,” located on the Southeast end lower flat part of Phou Pha Thi. At Pha Thi village, there was a helicopter airport and an Army base camp for protecting Phou Pha Thi.
My Journey to see Phou Pha Thi began from Vientiane (the Capitol of Laos), Laos to Paksane (Southeast of Laos), to Phonsavanh (best known as Plain of Jar), to Nonghet (General Vang Pao used to live there), to Sam Neua, and then to Kaohai village.
We spent a night in Sam Neua before departing to Kaohai village.
We departed Sam Neua city to Kaohai village at around 8:30AM. Due to the foggy weather in the morning in the Sam Neua area, we could not depart earlier. We arrived at Kaohai village at about 10:00AM. At this village, we were able to view Phou Pha Thi at a very close distance. I was very excited to see Phou Pha Thi and I missed my family, especially my great grandfather, Wanglue (Vamlwm) and my father, Kiatou Wanglue Vang. I wondered how life was back then for them, especially being inside the helicopter flying across the mountains back and forth from villages to the Pha Thi Village. This was my first visit and I was be able to relate and connect the story timeline that many of my family members back in the States had always talked about.
Phou Pha Thi stands tall to the west of Kaohai village. We spent about two hours at the village just glancing at Phou Pha Hhi and the surrounding areas.
I felt like I accomplished a goal in my life by going back and seeing the place where my roots began.
I wish to go back again when the time allows, especially to the village at Phou Pha Thi, where my great grandfather, Wanglue and my father, Kiatou Wanglue Vang, used to live.
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