Xieng Mieng and the Bamboo Tube
Xieng Mieng and the Bamboo Tube


Xieng Mieng and the Bamboo Tube


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 Xieng Mieng and the Bamboo Tube


Many years ago there was a man called Xieng Mieng, who was often called the smartest man in the kingdom. However there was a merchant called Nyang, who believed he was the smartest man. Determined to prove that he was smarter than Xieng Mieng, he set up a plan to outsmart the notorious trickster.


“Xieng Mineg thinks he is so clever” Nyang said to his friends, “But I will show you all that I am by far the smartest. I will trick Xieng Mieng into willingly smelling my fart!”

His friends all laughed at Nyang’s audacity, but encouraged him to try his luck against Xieng Mieng. The next day Nyang prepared a large feast for himself and gobbled it all up. Then, when he felt a rumbling in his guts, he grabbed a bamboo tube and squatted down on top of it. He let out an almighty fart that shook the pillars of his house. He quickly sealed up the bamboo tube, with his stinky surprise inside. He laughed to himself as he imagined Xieng Mieng opening the tube, before preparing for the long journey to the village where Xieng Mieng lived. 


It was a long trip to Xieng Ming’s village, and when Nyang arrived he was tired and dusty from the road. As he approached the village he saw a man waving to him. Nyang walked up to the man who said “Welcome to our village. You must have travelled a long way to visit us, please sit and have some water”

Nyang sat down and gratefully accepted the water from the kind stranger. “What brings you to our village?” asked the stranger

“I have come to meet Xieng Ming” replied Nyang

“Oh really? What business do you have with him?”

“I have come from a village far away. I am the smartest man in the village, but people say that Xieng Ming is smarter than me! I have come to prove I am the smartest man in the land. I have come to trick Xieng Ming!”

“How will you trick him?” asked the stranger.

“Do you see my bamboo tube?” asked Nyang “I will trick Xieng Ming into smelling what is in the tube!”

“What is in the tube?”

“My fart!” Nyang burst out, barely containing his laughter.

“You farted in the tube?” laughed the stranger “that is a clever plan! When did you do your fart?”

“Back in my village”

“Your village far away?” asked the stranger “Oh dear. That was so long ago, I am worried that your fart has lost its smell”

“I doubt it” said Nyang “It was a mighty fart that shook my whole house”

“I would not take that chance” said the stranger “Imagine how silly you would look if you came all this way to make Xieng Ming smell your fart, but there was no fart…”

Nyang thought about this and realised the stranger was right. He carefully opened the bamboo tube and took a gentle whiff of its contents. His face suddenly changed, full of disgust. “It absolutely is still full of my fart” he coughed

The stranger burst out laughing.

“Do you know who I am?” said the stranger between fits of laughter “I am Xieng Ming! I have tricked you into smelling your own fart! Surely now you must realise that I truly am smarter than you, for you are a fool who smells his own farts!”


Xeing Ming laughed and laughed as poor Nyang began walking back to his village, knowing that Xieng Ming truly was the smartest man in the kingdom.


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.