In the latest installment of our new (semi)regular segment, Wow! Really?, we examine little-known or unexpected facts about Hungary and Hungarian culture. Today, we turn our focus eastward, to the country of Laos in Asia, where apparently you can never know when you might hear Hungarians words.
Landlocked Laos is one of the world’s few remaining communist states, and one of East Asia’s poorest. As it was a French colony until the 1953, it would not be surprising to find French speakers there;however, meeting a “Laotian-Hungarian” is certainly an unexpected occurrence. Wait…what? Where? Almost 10.000 kilometers away from Hungary? How?
All right, Hungarians are everywhere all around the word; that much is true. According to demographic data, there is a 5-million-strong population of Hungarian living outside of the country’s modern borders. For the most part though, these people are of Hungarian descent. But while ‘Ven Vi Lai’ is not a Hungarian, he truly surprised the Hungarian world-traveler bikers in an isolated corner of Laos.
As the pair spoke to Lai (in Hungarian), they learned that he had lived in Hungary for 5 years between 1979 and 1984. He learned to be a chauffeur in trade school there, and he really liked that part of his life in Hungary. Check this out:
How did they meet? The two, Hungarian bikers met him when they offered some water and he answered using a proper Hungarian phrase: “Nem iszom” / I don’t drink. When they asked him, why did he answered in the Middle-European language he said he recognized the Hungarian flag in on bikes. After this great surprise, they talked about the weather, and the travel plans of the unexpected Hungarian bikers…
‘Ven Vi Laj’ lives in Laos with his wife and little child.