Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
Although most experts in Laos do not believe there to be any Central Thai speakers in the country except for obvious cases such as embassy workers and businessmen, in fact there are a small number of Central Thais, "living along the Mekong in parts of Laos".
The Thais in Laos referred to here are not the same language group as the Lao Isan or Tai Yuan in Laos. They have come across the Mekong River to trade in Laos and to own cheap land. The Thai can be found in the Phontong District of Chasmpasak Province, in Savannakhet City of Savannakhet Province, and in Vientiane City, the capital of Laos.
In 1995, at the time of national census, there were 2,343 Thai citizens in Laos. This figure includes tourists and businessmen who were in Laos.
Many Thai in Laos earn their living from the bounty of the Mekong River. In parts of the river, the Paa Beuk (giant catfish) is caught every year between mid-April and May when the river is at its lowest. The giant catfish is believed to be the largest fresh-water fish in the world, measuring up to three meters (10 feet) in length and weighing up to 300 kg (660 pounds). A single fish can fetch up to US$ 4500 when sold to restaurants in Bangkok. In recent years the number of catfish caught has decreased to between 40-60 per season, suggesting that they will soon be unavailable.
The identity of the Thai people is wrapped up in their adherence to Buddhism. It is a common saying that "To be Thai is to be Buddhist". This cultural-religious tie has prevented many Thais from becoming Christians and has given Thailand a reputation for being a graveyard for missions.
When Thai monks enter the monk hood they must agree to follow the Ten Precepts of Buddhism. These are: "I take the vow not to destroy life; I take the vow not to steal; I take the vow to abstain from impurity; I take the vow not to lie; I take the vow to abstain form intoxicating drinks, which hinder progress and virtue; I take the vow to abstain from dancing and singing, music and stage plays; I take the vow not to use garlands, scents, unguents, or ornaments; I take the vow not to use a high or broad bed; I take the vow not to receive gold or silver".
* Pray God will have mercy on the Thai, doing whatever it takes to place them in a position to receive Him.
* Ask God to send Thai believers from Thailand to reach the Thai in Laos.
* Pray that God's Kingdom would come to people living along the entire length of the mighty Mekong River.