One of the most popular T-shirts mottoes in the Hmong Night Market here is “Same Same”. Yesterday when we visited another weaving village, this time south of town, only one loom of many was strung with lovely cotton in natural and beige thread. A traditional pattern was begun. A woman who saw us eyeing the work, came over and demonstrated a few passes, explaining that this piece would take three weeks to finish. We asked to see her work, expecting more of the same. She guided us to a pile of weavings in garish colors, machine made of synthetic fibers but in similar design. “Same same”, she assured us smiling. “No same same”, we replied in unison. “Cotton?” we asked hopefully? “Lao silk”, she nodded proudly. A neighbor pulled a synthetic piece from her pile and smiled, “Cotton. Same same.” We drifted away back to our tuk tuk.
Today, a new tuk tuk driver dropped us at our guest house and we engaged him for our return trip to the airport tomorrow. After we asked his name, he politely asked ours. “Ann.” “Ellen.” “Oh!” He smiled. “Same same!” We smiled, nodded and drifted away.