After our lunch in Ban Muang, we made a stop at Lak 14 market, which is well known as a wildlife market in the area. There are various exotic animals available for purchases. Even though buying and selling of protected wildlife is against the law, you can still find protected species on sale at the local markets or a long the roads.

I was very disturbed by the images that I saw to say the least. Yes, I am one of those save the panda kind of people so it was shocking to me to see some of the animals tied up like that. It was a good thing that no one offered to make a nice meal for me out of the wildlife on sale at the market or else we would have had an intense conversation like I did back in 2007 with a relative in Vientiane who asked my parents if we wanted to have a laap out of a fawn (Muntjac Fawn). My parents said no of course but I gave this relative a nice lecture about eating protected wildlife animal.

If you find protected species on sale in Laos, your first instinct might be that you want to save them by buying them but that is not the right thing to do. Buying a bird or a turtle to release it back to nature doesn’t stop the illegal trading of wildlife and will only send the wrong message that there is an increase in demand and you would do more harm than good. Also when you are at a temple and there are people asking you to buy birds or other animals to release them for merit making or tum boun, it would better for you to give the money to a charity of your choice or donate to the temple rather than endorsing these type of practices.

So, what did we buy at Talat Lak 14? We only bought purple sticky rice and bananas from the market so we can make khao thom the next day.