Here is a Bangkok Post news article regarding music in Vientiane. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but I think it will interest anyone interested in Vientiane or Lao music.

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News.com.au have an article about the impact of tourism on Laos, and in particular Vang Vieng.

Doesn’t seem like there’s much news to me there. It was the same 3 years ago when I first went to Laos.

I like Vang Vieng a lot. It’s scenery is really nice. There are a lot of “Falang” idiots, but they tend to congregate together. If you just head away from the “tubing” river it can be quite scenic and quiet. In my personal experiences I haven’t seen anyone too badly behaved. It’s definitely a place worth checking out. Hey, even the “tubing” is pretty fun. It’s pretty amusing to see people axe themselves on the giant swings.

I recently visited a friend who spent a week in Laos during the SEA Games to help as a sports coach. They had previously worked in Laos for a year in this role, and it was quite inspiring to see their commitment in returning to continue to help the national team. Rather amusingly, some of their athletes had changed sport since they were last in the country.

International athletes got to stay in specially built accommodation, but the local Lao athletes from the provinces had a much more basic stay. I was told it was a case of 5 girls and one bed for some.

I really hope the country doesn’t have the post host city economic downturn that has afflicted so many Olympic countries. I find it hard to see how much of the sporting facilities built will ever be fully utilised again.

Good Intentions Are Not Enough has some excellent advice regarding volunteering overseas.

The main points are:

1. Meaningful volunteering takes a lot of time.

2. Work with local people, don’t replace them.  e.g. If you want to go to a developing country and help them build houses you should be asking yourself – Am I more skilled at doing this task than a local person and is this even something the local people want?

3. Examine your motivations (I disagree with most of the stuff here).

4. Manage your expectations (Highly agree).

Most development work tries to emphasise the issues of “sustainability”, which are the core to the points raised above. The problem is that it’s easier said than done.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/world/asia/18mekong.html?hp

It’s all happening in Vientiane with one of the biggest events in Lao history taking place with the 25th SEA games.

Here’s some footage of a pink elephant doing the laamvong: