Well, the good news is that my bag eventually made it back from Brunei to Hanoi and I wasn't left behind by the group.
I am now well on my way into Laos country and have already spent time in the capital Vientiane as well as a couple of days in the backpacker town of Vang Vieng, the latter of which turned out to be great fun!
The tour I am doing is definitely covering off the key places in Laos but with some lengthy days travelling and only a short stop at each destination I am finding it difficult to take it all in and of course keeping up with the blog is almost impossible.
For those of you who know me or follow by crafting blog, you will know that I endeavoured to do a little fundraising before I set off on my trip. In the end I raised £60 from selling off some of my craft stash for a few pence. So far I have been able to contribute a portion of this to a very worthy cause - COPE in Vientiane, Laos.
Laos PDR is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita. More than 580,000 bombing missions were conducted as part of the Indochina war in a 9 year period between 1964 and 1973 with an estimated 270 milion bombs being dropped into Laos. The country wasn't even involved in the fighting and merely got caught up in it all, becoming a dumping ground for bombs that could not be dropped on their inteneded target, and estimated 30% of which did not detonate.
The result is that a significant number of villages (approx 25%) still remain contaminated with UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) and sadly many people have continued to be killed or injured following some of these accidentally exploding.
These accidents have more recently reduced following the work being done by COPE, the CMR (Centre of Medical Rehabilitation) and MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to provide services to people affected by UXO's and begin clearing the unexploded devices.
I'm sure you will agree that experiencing the sights and culture is an important part of travelling, but giving something back is too. I hope to find another opportunity to put the remaining monies collected to good use too in the coming weeks so do check back here for more.
In the meantime here are the latest entries from my travels...
From: Hanoi, Vietnam
To: Vientiane, Laos