LAOS: The Boys at the Snow Leopard

What makes Phong Savan different from innumerable other thatch-roofed Laotian villages is the comfortable Inn of the Snow Leopard, built in the form of a hunting lodge. Last month the boys were gathering at the Snow Leopard to sip their pastis, discuss business conditions, and wait for the tribesmen on their way down from the hills with their annual offering of confiture (jam), the local nickname for opium. Most of the boys have a Mediterranean origin: Couscous, a wiry North African; Carlo the Corsican; a Eurasian called Moitie Gnakouey; and a clutch...

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