James Ward United States 12 Jul, 2019
I had no idea the precision required and bow making
Holly C Laos 11 Jan, 2018
We had 2 tours with backstreet academies. Both our guides were fabulous and very informative on life in Laos. We learnt how to basket weave and also crafted bow and arrow, but most of all we had sneak peak at real life, how much these families love and care for each other and saw the physicalities of life are tough. But very calm and contented people! Back st academies is partially set up to assist young students to practice their english, congratulations to your initiative and great tours!
Kristen Taylor Laos 12 Sep, 2017
These bamboo bows are light and elegant. It's really a wonderful thing to learn and great afternoon of it. Highly recommend.
Arianwen Morris United Kingdom 12 Jan, 2016
In 3.5 years of travel, I don't think I've come across a concept that's impressed me as much as Backstreet Academy. Their experiences enable you to interact with locals at their homes while learning traditional skills. Many of the crafts workshops give you the chance to try things you've never done before, and you often get to come away with a really impressive souvenir.
I did FIVE experiences organised into just a day and a half. The first day I started with knife making, then Hmong bamboo bow making with an 85-year-old man who said I was the first female he'd ever taught the craft to. I got to practice shooting the bows at a target and I came away with a bow and arrow and a crossbow!
Next up was rice wine making. The family were really welcoming and, since there's a bit of waiting around for things to cook, we naturally passed the time sipping some wine they'd made earlier through bamboo straws.
I rounded up day one with the Fear Factor Food tour, where I had my first taste of grilled dog, undercooked goat with its skin still attached, testicle soup, colon, chicken feet, chicken hearts, duck egg foetus and some intestines stuffed with excrement! If the thought of any of those things turns your stomach, it's ok, because you'll get a side sauce of bile to flavour it... My saviour was the Beer Lao, which I used to chase those chewy morsels that just wouldn't go down!
My final experience was a 5-hour wood carving session. I made a small elephant, with a lot of help and guidance from my host. It turned out great and will make a fantastic gift when I get home. You have the option of making a base for the elephant, and you can add text if you like, so if you do this course, think about what you might want (names, dates, or short messages).
While everything about these experiences was amazing, I have to give a shout out to Huelee and Oun, who were stuck with me for almost 12 hours on my first day. They were the most entertaining and informative guides I think I've ever had. By the end of the day, I felt like I was out at dinner with two new friends rather than on an organised tour by myself with guides. They were very modest about their skills too. Oun is still studying at college, working for Backstreet Academy part time and doing shifts in a restaurant in the evenings. I don't know how he finds time to sleep, but he was really energetic, talkative and enthusiastic. His English (and his accent) are brilliant too. I hope he fulfils his ambition to be a full-time tour guide because he'd be the best!
Thanks so much Backstreet Academy. I'll definitely be checking out more workshops as I travel through Asia. My only concern is how to carry all the amazing things I've made!