The Aussie volunteers have been mixed in their health outcomes for the past two months, but thankfully there have been no serious incidents or ailments.

Jep tong (or stomach ache) has been the most common sickness or as the Laos volunteers like to call it, the muddy mekongs or lao bowel. Hangovers are also an issue, as communal drinking is often heavily encouraged. Two volunteers recently went to a wedding where there were 10 bottles of Johnny Walker Gold for the 10 people on the table, one each! Here is a breakdown of sicknesses so far:

2 x Giardia

2 x Burns from motorcycle exhaust pipes

1 x Accident into a steel fence during a motorbike lesson

3 x Flu

1 x UTI

One volunteer visited the hospital in Nong Kai to have a x-ray for a chest infection. He was impressed by the standards of the hospital. If you are sick you can get across the border quickly through an ambulance, or they can even bring you over in a helicopter. The managing director of my work has been making regular visits to Udon Thani in Thailand to bring his daughter to the hospital.

The hospitals in Laos are said to be very poor in comparison to Thailand. I’m told there are wards full of people bandaged up with motor vehicle injuries. I’m would be interested to visit one to see what it is like inside.

Thai hospitals have standards that are comparable or even superior to Australian hospitals. The Bangkok Post has ads in its classifieds section for a sex change operation for about $1600 USD. This seems like an extremely good price for what seems a rather involved procedure. Anaesthetic is included.

Update: I should have added there have been 3 very minor motorcycle accidents among the volunteers. One person fell over his bike after a drunk police officer swerved his car into him. I believe he sustained some bruising to his hand. Another volunteer knocked over a kid who ran out in front of him while he was making the trip from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. The kids only had a few scratches. Apparently people drop cigarettes on the road and kids often run out to collect them. The final accident happened when a volunteer had to drop her bike in order to avoid hitting a school girl who ran in front of her.

Here is a map of Laos for reference to the cities I refer to in this blog.