Beautiful picture captured by my dear Ubelonger mate Laurel, i truly adore this picture.
I already live aboard, China isn’t my country, Vietnam either, and I did volunteer in China too, that’s for another post, Vietnam and China are pretty much my second homes, I am use to it, the good sides, the bad sides, the food, the air, the people, I wont say I am an expert in those countries I don’t believe in those things, but certainly I know way more about those two countries than I knew and know about Laos.
So I decided to volunteer aboard and I choose Laos, because I heard great things about this little country often ignored, its location is convenient because its close to Vietnam so it wouldn’t be very costly and time consuming getting there.
I could also choose Cambodia it's neighbor, but Cambodia is more popular, noisy and touristy than Laos, I really want to visit Cambodia, I have a huge list of things and experiences I want to do in Cambodia, but as a volunteer normally you go with and ONG, you have a work schedule, your not a tourist who is there to explore, On the other hand the small town of Vang Vieng, there’s little to be seen, its cute, remote, old, rustic and with few attractions and activities, basically the most popular ones is the blue lagoon and the air balloon, since vang vieng is extremely small you can manage to go to those activities after work or on your free day, plus you get to make an impact, help a cause and experience the country in a different way.
I found Ubelong through online reviews, my preparation was very fast, since I did apply quite late, but my Ubelong mentor Barbara, was always ready to help and answer my questions, so finally I was able to go to Laos.The local team was lovely, the volunteers were awesome, everything was organized and arranged to accommodate us.
Since I was staying in a hostel, because the volunteer house was full, I was pretty lucky, I had my own room, the hostel was clean and spacious and the location was perfect, right on the main street, I would go to the volunteer house to eat and the lovely lady who cooked for us, was a true chef, I cant still get over her meals.
Apart being very good dealing with children's, I believe being extremely open minded and cultural conscious, I wanted to teach, but the teaching positions in Laos were full, so I choose organic farm, and it was great, hard work but fun, we needed to be creative in all aspects, it was a great experience, getting back to basics, work for a couple of hours, having a little siesta on the farm, eat than get back to work, I also had the chance to work some hours on the construction project on the village school, and we also visited another school, the week went fast but it felt long at the same time.
For instance I met amazing people, who had the same ideal as me, with inspiring life stories, fellow travelers, we connected with the locals in a different way, because we were working with them so we got to learn facts and get insights of their culture, that we probably wouldn’t as simple travelers who are just passing by for a couple of days to visit some sights and leave, we got to eat amazing food cooked by the lovely lady at the house, we got to experience life as a local.
My favorite memory was on the farm, when we would have a break for lunch, we would seat on the tent, have a delicious lunch than relax there, have a nap, it was just so simple but so peaceful.
I know what you must be thinking, what is she wearing? I know I know, I haven’t prepared earlier enough, I did my application pretty fast and didn’t had time to purchase the right outfit and materials, that’s why I was looking like, i tried to be gipsy but i failed.
so lesson of the day, don't do it like me,prepare earlier enough, so you don't look funny. :)
A perfect place to meditate and to read a book. Life simple luxuries
I still recall how we Struggled to take the water from there,but it was so much fun.
On our way to the school village,the road to get there was rough, but in the other hand we saw beautiful scenery, we got to play with the kids,and help a little on the school construction, than Sai (our Lao host, mate,instructor,big brother) took us to a beautiful cave.
The school village
Eating some exotic food after coming back from the cave,i will let you guys guess what is it,its our Lao secret. :)
I cant get over Lao food.
What divides people is no match for what unites us—our humanity. Human collaboration, more than anything, can change the world for the better. Everyone can make a difference. We believe in people.
We got those bracelets from a Monk at night on a temple close to fruit friends(the volunteer house), he tied the bracelet in our hands and recited some type of lyrics,chants, its suppose to mean good luck,protection and prosperity, it was a weird night we were at home just chilling together and we decided to go to a temple in the middle of the night, the Monk was one of the Ubelongers students and he invited us to go there anytime, so we went, we were sitting on the floor with him and he told us about their culture, how he became a Monk,rituals and so on, it looked weird than, but now it looks amazing, it felt like a secrecy type of ritual we had, it was beautiful,we got a cultural experience at night in a temple in Laos,got the Monk to Bless us in person, it was also a way for us to bond between each other, the monk was so sweet that he even gave us Lao snacks in the end.
Eat as much bread as you can in Laos, the bread is fresh and delicious, perhaps it has to do with the French influence like in Vietnam and most of the Indochina,the bread and their street sandwiches are addictive, i cant recall the prices anymore, but i know that is dirty cheap, i would go as far as saying that is the cheapest city i have ever been too.
The famous blue lagoon
The day we visited the school, we got to play with the students,talk to them, they were so happy to receive us, it was my last day unfortunately,one of them was sad he wanted me to stay longer, how sweet was him. :)
Overall I am extremely grateful for the experience, for the people that I met, and the opportunity to see Laos through another angle.
Thank you Laos, Thank you Ubelong, for memories that will last for a lifetime!
I was there everyday, for those yummy banana pancake, than I complained how could after an intensive farm work and healthy delicious Laos food I couldn’t loose Weight.
That's so far the only pictures i have of Vientiane, i spend there about 5 hours before i headed to the airport, so of course i had a last Lao delicious meal, i love Lao sticky rice, they eat sticky rice with almost everything, and the sticky rice come in this brown straw pot,its so cute, normally in the fruit friends house(volunteer house) it came in a big one,when you want more rice you would just grab some with your hands and eat, but in the picture its a restaurant it was just me, so of course they gave me a small one, anyway i taught it was very cute and culturally different, i haven't seen anywhere else, so i bought some of those to bring back home as gifts.
Ps: you can try to volunteer aboard and experience a culture in another angle, but we don’t need to travel to volunteer and to contribute to society, we can do this daily wherever we live and even when traveling, there’s many ONG, protecting and fighting for tons of different causes around the world, you can just choose one and pay them a visit for a day, a couple of hours and help the best way you can.
Become a volunteer aboard you wont regret it! :)