Since my last post, I’m happy to say that things have got a lot better. The food poisoning eventually left me to enjoy my trip and although my BlackBerry tablet decided to give up the ghost, I since have a shiny new iPad Mini (a debt which needs to be paid when I’m back home!) I see it as a little Christmas present to myself..
We spent the last few days in northern Laos visiting a bear sanctuary and the COPE Centre. Seeing the sun bears was so cool and I managed to get some brilliant snaps. Unfortunately, the black bears that the sanctuary had recently taken in were still in quarantine. The visit to the COPE centre was a sobering experience to say the least, and a real eye opener.
I’ve never really known too much about the Vietnam war, and I certainly never knew how much it had impacted on Laos. Turns out that Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world, and the aftermath is still affecting its people more than 40 years on. The COPE Centre has been set up to support those who have lost limbs due to UXOs (unexploded ordnance), and to support the families who’ve lost loved ones during explosions. It amazes me how many UXOs are still scattered across Laos and how little America, the country that put the bombs there, have contributed to the clear-up. It’s a sorry state of affairs when children are hunting for bombs because the value of the metal puts food on the table.
After Vientiane, we took the overnight ‘sleeper’ bus to Pakse so we could book onto the Tree Top Explorer. The bus was an experience! It was basically a 20-year-old coach converted to include completely horizontal beds (by beds, I mean a sun lounger cushion on the floor). Four people in each section … that was until the coach stopped and let more people on. And then there were five! As you can imagine, I managed to catch about 10 minutes’ sleep during the whole journey. And I’ll never complain about another pot-hole in England again!