I was an Australian volunteer who spent a year living in Vientiane, Laos.

I have since left Laos but continue to monitor news about the country and occasionally write about my experiences there.

If you’d like to get in contact with me please write a comment here.

29 Responses to “About”

  1. Somsay Says:

    your cool mate!

    your site is really good. and im glad you liked laos. its poor, but yes the people are really nice. im sad that there is a big flood there now, my family’s place is flooded. i wish i can just buy them a new house in a safer place. thats what i would spend my money on if i were a rich.

    cheers mate! hit me up on msn somsays@hotmail.com

    i would love to chat about laos with you. i was born there but i moved to canada when i was 3, i went back last year. i had a crazy time actaully.

  2. Siena Says:

    Hey there,

    I am an Aussie about to embark on a year in Laos as a volunteer. I would love to speak with you more about Vientiane and some tips etc.


  3. Just Me Says:

    Hi Siena, have been here as a volly for about 6 months and have had a great time. Vte is like a country town, the people are friendly, the climate is hot and humid. Just hook into the the volly/expat network, everyone here is happy to make new friends. It is very inexpensive to live, the food can be vastly different from what our palates are used to but that is not a bad thing. The rice is to die for.
    It will be a change, as someone said to me in the first weeks, it is amazing what you can get used to! Odds on you will want to outstay your contract.

  4. leslie Says:

    i stumbled across this while researching all things lao. my boyfriend and i are planning a move from the states to luang prabang (wow!). i’m looking into the details of extended visas, banking, etc. and wondering if you’ve got any info or a place to point me.

    1. alao Says:

      Not so sure about the latest information about Visa. I know you can get a temporary visa on arrival, but that only lasts 30-60 days. This can be extended in country, for something like $2 a day, or by exiting and reentering the country. For a long term visa you may need to be sponsored by an organization. There may be other ways but I’m not familiar with them. If you do find out any useful information please don’t hesitate to share it and I’ll write a post about it.

      As for banking, there were a couple of ways I got money out. 1. Transfer money on my credit card and go to a bank to get a Cash Advance (one of the Thai Banks in town). 2. Go to Thailand and withdraw from an ATM. There is an Australian Bank, ANZ, that has bought over the existing Vientiane Commerical Bank, and may offer even better services now. Phongsavanh Bank recently set up before I left. They seemed to offer superior service.

  5. leslie Says:

    and subscribing…

  6. Ash Says:

    Just came across your blog.

    I have long looked at AYAD as one of my long time goals, and have read up
    on it quite a bit. Ive just finished my Batchelor of Arts in journalism
    and im undertaking a GAP year. Just recently i visited an orphanage in
    India for four months.

    I am looking into something a bit longer term however, and looking at
    volunteering for an NGO in a developing country.

    What are the chances of being accepted into a program like this?

    What is the best way of addressing the criteria?

    Thanks for your time, Ashleigh

    1. alao Says:

      It’s a great experience and definitely worth trying to apply for. Some people try several years before they make it, so don’t feel rejected if you don’t get through the first time.

      Your chances of being accepted are very much to do with how well your skills and experience match the positions you apply for. My understanding is that there are about 3-4 applicants on average for each position. Your chances will depend on how many people apply for the position (some jobs and countries are more popular than others) and how you compare against them. Many successful applicants have tertiary qualifications + relevant work experience, with most people in the 25-30yr old range.

      I am not sure what to say about the best way to address the criteria. For general stuff that’s not specific to the position, I would say it’s important that you can prove you’re mature, can handle unfamiliar situations, are culturally sensitive and can cope with difficult and stressful situations. Try to think about what you would look for if you were selecting someone to act as your ambassador to a developing country.

  7. Alex Says:

    Hi Mate
    Love your blog, it takes me back to the my backpacking days in SEA. Laos had the most relaxed people in an area that is prodimantly buddhist, quite an accomplishment.

    I have a question for you… I’m thinking about opening up a guesthouse in Luang Probang or Vientiane… do you have any knowledge to share on that subject?

    Also, how expensive are apartments in Vientiane, a standard 1 bed.

    Thanks for any help mate.

    1. alao Says:

      I don’t have any knowledge about opening up a guest house in Laos, but it’s great that you’re thinking of starting a business there.

      As for apartments in Vientiane, I have no idea how much rent is. If you check out the nightly rate of a guest house that might give you some indication.

      1. Sone Says:

        Alao you are right that aparment will be base on nightly rate of a guest house; start from 150US$ very basic one and on second to 2500 US$ per month. Here nowaday there are more hotels and aparment build for Seagame in Dec 2009

  8. Activa Says:

    Hi Mate
    Love your blog, it takes me back to the my backpacking days in SEA. Laos had the most relaxed people in an area that is prodimantly buddhist, quite an accomplishment.

    I have a question for you… I'm thinking about opening up a guesthouse in Luang Probang or Vientiane… do you have any knowledge to share on that subject?

    Also, how expensive are apartments in Vientiane, a standard 1 bed.

    Thanks for any help mate.
    Alex;. All the best!!

  9. Sone Says:

    Any possible to work for travel agent in Australia; i have working experience in tourism in Laos for 10 years from tour guide,marketing officer to hotel assistant manager…

  10. wrflblog Says:

    Hi! Ignore the blog I’m logged into- I just made it for the radio station I work at.

    I’ve enjoyed reading some of your posts. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me via email about Laos. I am working on a website on Laos for school and it would be great to get some insider comments. My email is : lauren.weis@uky.edu

    Thank you so much for your time.

  11. Martin Says:

    Great to read about different Lao experiences. I like your idea about outsourcing volunteers. I am self-financing book publishing in Laos. It started with all the frustrated students I met who were trying to learn English with ridiculous English texts. More information on:

    momobooks.asia and momobooks.blogspot.com


  12. FB Murphy Says:


    I’d like to commission a travel article about Laos (at least one). If interested, please email me for full details.


  13. kate Says:

    Hi, just came across your website. I am expat living in Laos. I just recently visited the National Museum and discovered that Laos (like most cultures) once had art, poetry, literature, etc.

    The arts is very much lacking here. I know for a fact that there is a wealth of Lao folk tales, etc., that can be translated into english and plays and movies can be produced from these stories (or books published).

    Where does one find a list of things to do that will enhance the cultural experience (that is not the usual tourist traps)? Where do all the falang’s hang out in Vientiane besides Nam Phou and Joma?

  14. Hi,

    We worked as NZVSA volunteers for 4 yrs in VT. Love your blog. May well have met you, at Sticky Fingers or else. You may enjoy our blog. If you do, and want to swap links, contact us.


  15. Hi!

    I’m Ave from Spain and I saw that you live in Cambodia. I collect map and flag postcards from all over the world and I wanted to ask if you could send me a written and stamped postcard from Cambodia.
    I would be really happy to add a new country to my collection.

    Please let me know if you can help me with my collection.

    My postcard blog: http://tite-roy-gatra-pc.blogspot.com/


  16. Alicia Says:

    After a recent trip to Laos, I’m interested in creating a documentary about Laos. I think it’s so important to get the perspective of those activity involved in work there, as well as Laotian people. Any information or time you could give me would be great. I also live about 4 hours away from Vientiane and have all of April off of work and would be willing to come and actually talk with someone.

    1. Alicia, you may want to have a look at my site and contact me. We’re out of SE asia until may 1, but back in Thailand after that.

  17. mohana Says:

    Hi: I’m a writer who is married to someone of Lao background and really found this blog useful as I’m about to start a book set in Laos just before the fall (and follows the family’s migration to the US). Will be reading!

  18. Hi,

    I’ve just discovered your blog and was wondering whether you might like to
    contribute something to an anthology on Development:

    Please feel free to pass the link on to anyone you feel might be interested.

  19. Milan Says:

    Hey there,
    I’m quite interested in volunteering abroad, and Laos seems a good option. Could you maybe send me an email, so I can explain further, and ask some questions?


  20. Ronny Jakobsen Says:

    Hi, do you still have contact with the football team Wednesday FC? I would love to get in contact with one of their players. We have a team in Bangkok, and are looking for a team to play a friendly game against. If you have any contact info to someone that can english, please forward it to ronny_jakobsen@hotmail.com.


  21. aroberts42 Says:


    My name is Amanda Roberts and I am the author of the blog Two Americans in China. I found your blog and contact information through Expats Blog. I am the author of Crazy Dumplings, a fun food fusion cookbook that was funded throughKickstarter. My dream, though, is to write a cookbook written specifically for expats about how to cook foods and dishes from their home country in their new adopted country using ingredients that can be found locally. However, my only experiences cooking abroad are in China, so I thought it would be a good idea to get information from the worldwide expat audience. I would love to hear about your experiences cooking abroad. Please click the following link to take my survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3DKT52R (Works best if using Google Chrome.) I will include a link to the blog of everyone who responds and helps me out in the book.

    Thank you so much for your assistance, and I look forward to hearing from you!

  22. Joyce Says:

    Dear Alao,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Vientiane, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,

  23. Joyce Says:


    My name is Joyce, I am a marketing executive at expatfinder.com which is a leading expat information and services website.

    I saw on your blog that you are and expat. I wish to interview you to further share some of your tips. The questions are mainly about the housing, the daily life etc.

    It just takes 5 minutes (or more depending if you have lots to say 🙂

    Of course, if you accept we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.

    If you are interested to participate at this project, please send me an email at interview@expatfinder.com.

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