A little over two years ago, I posted a cover of “Zaj Dab Neeg Hlub Tim Vaj Loog Tsua” on my YouTube channel.
Four months prior to the video release, my family and I had the rare opportunity to visit Laos together and were fortunate to have a great Hmong Lao chauffeur who had great taste in music.
He introduced “Zaj Dab Neeg Hlub Tim Vaj Loog Tsua” to us on our road trip from Vientiane to Xiengkhouang. From the lyrics to the distinct voice of Kub Qav Kaws, the song stole pieces of my heart and sprinkled them across the mountains and villages we journeyed through.
Today, I highlight this video for a couple reasons.
First, it’s a 2-year-old #Throwback! And there are definitely 5 things you need to know about this video:
1. Three women made this video possible: my sisters.
- Pader Xiong played the guitar.
- Pa Chia Xiong edited and shot the entire video, plus all the photos in the video belong to her.
- And Pa Kou Xiong made me look and feel beautiful for the video!
2. I had no recording gear; so all vocals were recorded in Los Angeles using the “Voice Memo” app on my iPhone 4.
3. The recording studio was a small coat closet, filled with winter coats and memory foam pads for overnight guests.
4. Pa Chia and I shot and edited the video for 48 straight hours. We barely ate, opted out of a party invitation, and literally crashed on our beds after it uploaded on YouTube.
5. I reached out to Kub Qav Kaws and he acknowledged the music video and me!
"...The song stole pieces of my heart and sprinkled them
across the mountains and villages we journeyed through."
And second, with the recent virality of a discouraging video that took place in Laos, I want this music video to be a reminder that there is good in our Hmong brothers and sisters who live in Laos.
As a first-generation Hmong American, I know many of us see Laos as being synonymous with the dark perspectives of our relatives who've lived or been there before. However, I want to say that Laos is more that what we see on Facebook or YouTube.
Before I left for Laos, I heard many creepy, dark stories that elders and relatives shared. But when I returned, I realized most of these stories never occurred during my trip.
Instead, I look back and smile.
From the best fruits I’ve ever tasted to the innocent smiles of young children (who act like mini adults) to the inspiring Hmong Lao women of VivNcaug, Laos who have big dreams just like you and me, I am so proud and fortunate to have had such a beautiful experience in Laos.
I plan to go back one day, record a video, and cross my fingers that it will go viral in hopes of spreading love and light across the world for our Hmong people.
But for now, enjoy this one:
Do you plan to go to Laos one day? If so, what are your concerns or hopes? Have you been there before? What piece of advice would you give to someone who’s never been?
Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you. Until next time…