Indo-China is a region in South East Asia which was colonised by the French in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Initially it consisted of a federation of four areas, formed in 1887: Tonkin, Annam and Cochinchina (North, Central and South Vietnam respectively), and Cambodia. The country of Laos became included in 1893.
Our narrator’s mother is described as the daughter of a tea-planter; the French began to survey areas where tea was grown from the 1880s and soon established a number of plantations. The terrain and wildlife would have appeared suitably exotic when viewed from fin de siècle Paris; the mention of a man-eating tiger reinforces this. French control of Indo-China ended in 1954, with the signing of the Geneva Agreements.