Xieng Mieng Tricks the King
Xieng Mieng Tricks the King


Xieng Mieng Tricks the King


Xieng Mieng is a recurring character is Lao folktales, a mischievous prankster who always seems to get the better of his foes. In post-colonial Laos he has also become somewhat of an allegory for the common man outsmarting the upper-classes, tricking them into all sorts of foul acts. While his stories are Lao, his humour is universal and his shenanigans offer an amusing insight into Lao culture. One of his most popular pranks is the story of how Xieng Mieng tricked the king.

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Photo from: https://worklivelaos.com/xieng-mieng/

The powerful king had heard about Xieng Mieng’s antics and summoned him to the king’s court. Xieng Mieng came to the palace and was introduced to the king. 

“It is said that you are the smartest man in the land” said the king.

“I am not so sure about that” replied Xieng Mieng “Surely I could not be smarter that you, your excellency”

“Ha!” laughed the king “You will not trick me with flattery Xieng Ming! But perhaps we can test your skills of trickery another way. Come, let us go out to the forest and have picnic. There is a lovely cool pond where we can relax, and I can think of a way to find out if you are the smartest man in the land”

A picnic in the forest with the king was too good of an offer to turn down and so Xieng Mieng happily agreed. 

“How we will we get to the forest?” inquired Xieng Mieng

“I am the king, so I will ride my magnificent white horse” said the king “But you are a lowly peasant, so you must walk beside my horse”

Slightly put off by this, but still excited by the idea of a picnic, Xieng Mieng agreed and the two of them set off towards the forest.

It was a lovely day, just after the rainy season, so the air was mild and the countryside was lovely and green. They soon arrived at the pond in the forest, and Xieng Mieng dutifully unloaded the picnic from the king’s horse. The two of the men feasted on sticky rice, papya salad, and lab. For desert they devoured delicious ripe mangos, while the horse munched on the rich green grass beside the pond. 

Photo by Discoverlaos.today

“Now Xieng Mieng” said the king “Let us see how great your skills of trickery really are! I bet that you can not trick me into getting into this pond!”

Xieng Mieng thought about this for a moment, his face racked in concentration. Eventually he said “You are right, your majesty. You are too clever for me and I could never trick you into getting into the pond. But I bet I could trick you into getting out of the pond…”

“It’s a bet!” the king exclaimed and quickly waded into the pond “Now let’s see you try and trick me into getting out of the pond!”

“Hmmmm…” said Xieng Mieng “This may be more difficult than I thought, because you are indeed a very clever king. I will need to think about this”

Xieng Mieng began to eat another of the mangos.

“Xieng Mieng!” cried the king “I am waiting for you to trick me out of the pond, not eat my mangos!”

“The food helps me think” explained Xieng Mieng calmly “But nothing is coming to mind. Maybe I need to sleep on it”

Xieng Mieng promptly had a nap, with the king still standing in the pond. After an hour he was woken by the king’s shouts

“I am still waiting for you to trick me out of the pond Xieng Mieng!” yelled the king angrily

Xieng Mieng got up and stretched lazily. “Your majesty, it is getting late and I must return home” he said “You are right, I cannot trick you into getting out of the pond, and you are far too clever for me. But since I can not trick you into getting out of the pond, you will be staying there and you won’t mind if I use your horse”

Xieng Mieng quickly jumped on the horse and rode off laughing while the king angrily splashed at the water

“Xieng Mieng!” he bellowed “You have tricked me!”

But Xieng Mieng could not hear him as he was laughing too much, with a belly full of the king’s food and riding the king’s horse off into the sunset. 


David Ormsby

David is a writer, explorer, adventurer, outdoor educator, and guide. He was worked across the Asia Pacific in a number of different roles within the eco-tourism and outdoor industry. Since 2016 David has lived and worked in Laos, and brings a depth of experience to his writing in Laos.