global travel shot: children taking care of children, laos

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I was at a local village primary school in Vang Vieng, Laos in December 2006. I saw this little girl and started talking to her. She kept frowning at me. I don’t think she understood a word I said and most probably thought I was cuckoo in the head for chatting away. I wanted to give her a big bear hug. Her threatening frown said “talk, but don’t you DARE hug me.” 🙂 Continue reading

laos 2: vang vieng, a backpacker’s and non-backpacker’s paradise

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Room with a view
Vang Vieng’s main claim to fame is the view from my hotel room. It is beautiful. The blue green karst hills towering over the Nam Song river is like a Chinese silk painting; the mountains most dramatic and spectacular at sunrise and sunset when the mist and blackness of the night lift to reveal nature in all its pristine beauty.

Vang Vieng’s other claim to fame is as a backpacker’s paradise. There are thousands of young Americans and Europeans whiling away their days here, floating endlessly in hollow tubes down the river and downing countless bottles of beer along the way. There are so many of them that they form their own little commune, watching reruns of ‘Friends’ at the restaurants, chatting on the internet, and partying late into the night, high on cheap whisky. It is not a pretty sight—a foreign self-absorbed world totally unconnected to Laos or the Lao people. But maybe I am just old fashioned in my ideas of travel … 🙂 Continue reading