Yesterday a fellow volunteer, the Queensland Lawyer, had a birthday party and badminton game at her house. While we were playing badminton in the front yard some Lao kids started hanging around to watch us play. Someone offered them some fairy bread, and later we asked them to join us in our badminton game. The kids were really good. There were 2 boys and a girl, probably brothers and sisters. They were better than any of us volunteers, despite being about 7-10 years old and about 2 foot shorter. They seemed to be really happy about playing us and had really big smiles on their faces. They were also imitating some of my badminton moves, such as my spinning of the raquet and swatting technique. At the end someone gave them some Mirinda to drink.

Giving Lao children lollies or soft drink is not a very good thing. Firstly, i encourages them to spend the little money they have on sweets that are more often than not imported into the country and relatively expensive to their income. Secondly, sweets cause tooth decay.

Badminton is a very popular spot here. A person at work plays it every night after work.

Other popular sports here are snooker/pool, football, boules and rattan ball (or “Sepak Takraw” as it is officially known). The Professor tells me that they play boules for money at his work. It’s 10’000 kip or 2 beers for the winner of each game. Rattan ball is very popular here and there are competitions between Laos and other South East Asian countries. The game is like volleyball except it is played with your feet. The ball is made of rattan, and is about the size of a lawn bowl ball (proving that there are better uses for rattan that what the Singapore government have made it famous for). You can see some players make spectacular mid air flip kicks on the games that take place after work in the courtyards of Vientiane’s offices. Search youtube for videos on “sepak takraw” to see what the game looks like.