Tag: Laos

Why Laos is My Favourite Country

Laos is a magical place. Unlike anywhere I have ever been before Laos managed to make me feel like I was on one of the biggest adventures of my life while also making me feel like I was completely at home. I didn’t know a lot about the country before I ventured to Asia in 2017 and thank goodness I did because Laos is now officially my most favourite country I’ve visited… so far, anyway!

The Scenery
The views are incredible. From the mountains and the greenery to the rivers and the waterfalls, Laos does not disappoint. My favourite moment was visiting Pakbeng, a small village in between the Thai and Lao borders. I remember waking up before 6am to stand on my balcony and look over the mighty Mekong River to see wild elephants enjoying themselves by the water. A memory I will never forget.

 

 

The People
I think the Lao people were the nicest people I’ve ever met bar none. So sweet, kind, and happy to help. I only spent seven days in Laos but our Contiki local guide is now my friend on Facebook! He was the best and we all grew incredibly close to him after playing cards on a slow boat for two days straight. Ahhh, the epitome of serenity.

The Currency
Ever wanted to feel like an absolute baller? Go to Laos. Taking 1,000,000 Kip out of the ATM will feel awesome. (That’s only $150 AUD!)

The Pace
Time goes slowly in the best way possible in Laos… it’s relaxing to be there. I loved every slow minute and wish more and more every day that I could be back on there and on Lao time.

The Adventures
Want to go cycling through the streets with no helmet on after a shot of the strongest whiskey you’ve ever tasted made from fermented lizards and snakes? Laos. 

The Story
The history of Laos is not common knowledge. That’s why the bombing that occurred there in the 1960s and early 1970s is referred to as the American’s ‘Secret War’. By the time the war campaign ended in 1973 a tenth of Laos’ population had been killed. Laos is the most heavily bombed nation in history. Conducted during the Vietnam War, the US military dropped 260 million cluster bombs onto Laos. This is equivalent to a planeload of bombs being unloaded every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years – nearly seven bombs for every man, woman and child living in Laos. Can you believe that during the war Laos was supposed to be neutral?
When I was learning about the history of it all while visiting the COPE (Co-operative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) Centre in Laos it was explained to us that the only reason these bombs were dropped was because the US military had to get rid of them before they landed back on US soil… Laos was just a dumping ground. There are still millions of unexploded bombs, grenades and landmines left with at least half of Laos still covered by them causing 300 new casualties – mostly children – per year due to accidentally stepping on or playing with an unexploded cluster bomb.
I was really proud of my tour group when we donated enough money to the COPE Centre to fund two prosthetic arms and two prosthetic legs for the victims of the bombs.
Knowing all of this, visiting the COPE Centre and viewing the documentary films there, and then realising how beautiful and kind the people are in Laos… that’s what makes this country so worthy of all of our love and visits. I bought a ring at some Lao markets made from the materials of a detonated cluster bomb and I have not taken it off since I bought it. Laos is very special to me and I can’t wait to go back.

 

 

Have you been to Laos? I’d love to hear stories from other travellers who have experienced this beautiful, wonderful, incredible place!

Katie

It’s Adventure Time!

Okay. After another few months of being totally rubbish at writing, I am back and here to stay!
(I say that every time, so let’s just see how we go… I really do love it here though, I swear!)

The reason for my sudden return?
Well, I thought it very important that I come back and shout to the world that I finally did it!

A couple of months ago, on the fifth anniversary of my last international departure (when I was lucky enough to travel to Italy with my high school Italian class), I finally booked my flights for my first ever solo international adventure! SOLO! In February – that’s next month! – me, myself, and I will be heading to ASIA for the trip of a lifetime. I will be setting off to explore Japan, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Over the moon is an understatement!

Originally I had planned to go to Europe for my first solo trip but when I came across the Asian Adventure Contiki tour I immediately fell in love. The idea of the cultural experience, the amazing Asian foods, the more affordable budget, and the much shorter plane trip had me singing Hallelujahs all the way to Flight Centre.

The Contiki actually only includes the three countries within South East Asia, but just before I booked I came across return flights to Osaka, Japan for only $250! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Japan so I tacked it on to either end of the trip.

I will fly into Osaka, where I’ll stay for two days, before heading to Thailand to start the Contiki tour. The Contiki will move through Thailand to Laos and then Cambodia, and once the tour finishes in Cambodia, I will fly back to Osaka for a ten hour stopover before flying home. Here’s to a year of amazing travel, starting with my very own Asian Adventure!

Katie