Live the moment
Laos has done us good. We have come to rest. Whether it was because we soon reach our first main destination Cambodia or whether it was actually the country and its people, we do not know. But I am sure, on another trip I would like to visit and get to know Laos for a longer time. We could only guess at the subtle moods. Moods like “people leave the country to work in Thailand” or “poverty is often not visible” or “this is not a paradise”. Why is that? Laos is a landlocked country. There is no access to the sea, agricultural products can hardly be exported.
A country that stagnates economically, especially after Covid. The flow of tourists has stopped, as has the sending of local guest workers abroad. The local currency, the KIP, is losing immensely in value. Payments and calculations are made in dollars or baths.
Laos seems to become a hub for China’s new Silk Road. That is why there has been investment, in infrastructure and dams (Laos could become the “battery” of Southeast Asia). China will thus be able to transport goods overland to Singapore and thus to Europe. But is all this also a help for a better life for the Laotians?
Laos – a paradise
“Laos – we did not expect so much idyll” or “Laos – our personal paradise”, “Laos – the jungle magic”, “Laos – the most peaceful country in the world”, headlines, which I can confirm. But only if I don’t look closely.
And the children of Laos?
4,3% of the Laotian children die before they are 5 years old. This catastrophic condition is the result of lack of hygiene, personnel, sanitary material and medicine. The child mortality rate is at least twice as high as in the neighboring countries (Cambodia 2.5%, Thailand 0.8%, China 0.7%, Vietnam 2.1%, exception is with Myanmar with also a child mortality rate of 4.3%).
Laos – a paradise?
This small “Elephant” Tuffi is traveling with us. Within every country we take a picture and hopefully we can bring him once around the world, back to his owner “Berger H Elefant“, to Berlin. A street art project to raise awareness about the disease ALS.
The Laotian flag goes back to a design of the national liberation movement Lao Issara from 1945, which wanted to prevent the reconquest of Laos by the former colonial power France after World War II – unsuccessfully. The country did not become independent until 1954.
After years of unrest, the communist movement Pathet Lao took power in 1975 and founded the Lao People’s Democratic Republic – still a one-party system today – whose symbol is the flag of Lao Issara. Two red stripes at the top and bottom symbolize the blood sacrificed in the struggle for freedom, the blue stripe in the middle symbolizes wealth, and the white disc symbolizes the full moon over the Mekong River and unity in the communist system.
Between idyllic and backpackers paradise – and one way to help the children
There are said to be 4,000 islands in Si Phan Don, an area in the Mekong just before the Cambodian border – large, small, narrow, wide, inhabited ones next to those that just barely penetrate the water surface, even disappearing completely under it in the rainy season.
The main island of Don Khong, which measures 18 by eight kilometers, is an oasis of peace. You cycle through small wooden hut villages, between countless rice fields. Here and there you meet a rice farmer, waving curiously and cheerfully to each other. Don Det, for example, offers an absolute contrast – the party island, where you will find rushing waterfalls, lush jungle thickets and exotic animals, as well as hordes of backpackers.
Before visiting countries like Laos, maybe we should critically question about what other travelers say. If you feel you would like to help, there are always places like the Don Som Riverside Guesthouse. Here you are not only get the best food, you can also ask about helping with projects. The owner himself is helping to develop the village in which he has set up this beautiful place.
And this is the place a family passed by and we could go for a small boat trip on the Mekong. The money for this also helps the family and especially the children. And of course, they know how to live the moment, feeling the paradise 🙂