Well, it had to happen!

Well, inevitably it has happened as I knew it would and as it does every trip. I have just spent 30 hours in bed sweating and shivering with the only break in the routine all to frequent trips to the bathroom. I have no idea what brought it on as I have been eating fairly carefully but it left me weak as a kitten. I went downstairs to get some water (important to keep hydrated) and literally could hardly get back up the stairs. Experience tells me tha there is nothing to do but go to bed and ride it out, so that is what I did.

I got up this morning and returned to the UXO Lao place which was fully open, and the main exhibition is even more appalling than the little bit I saw which appears to be the operations office. The figures are quite staggering and some of the photos extremely harrowing. It is estimated that 2 million tons of ordnance was dropped on Lao by the Americans during what we call the Vietnam War. A few more figures for you. They reckon 30% of all dropped ordnance does not explode, so do the maths on that yourself. One person per day is killed or injured by UXO in Lao. The submunitions (the small bombs in cluster bombs are locally known as bombies and there are estimated to be 78 million still unexploded here. That is frightening.

All the above figures do not include the war against the French and the Second World War. It is appalling but I think every visitor to Lao should visit here or a similar facility (there are seven organisations involved in similar work). The project is primarily UN Development Programme funded and I saw adknowledgement of assistance from various Governments including ours, which pleased me.

From there I went to the TEAC which is a museum / exhibition showing the lifestyles of the various minority tribes, and very interesting it was too. It is good that the TEAC ploughs back 50% of what it makes into sustainable projects amongst the tribes. In fact, I have noticed that a lot of the trekking companies and so on are geared towards responsible tourism which is pleasing.

It was a very hot day today, and I hadn't eaten for a while due to my bout of whatever and was consequently feeling a little weak, so I headed back to the little restaurant near my hotel and had a bland meal. I need to lay off the more exotic food for a day or two. Another little doze and then up, showered and I am writing this.

I have BBC World News here, and it appears the news is following me. One of the lead stories is that Thailand has forcibly repatriated 4,000 (H)mong people to Lao. This is one of the larger ethnic groups and one whose lifestyle I had studied in TEAC. Thailand claim they are purely economic migrants but the (H)mong claim they will be persecuted in Lao as they supported the Americans in the war. I do remember the last time I was here hearing that the Government were not exactly friendly towards them but I do not know to what extent they may suffer.

I will sign off now and go to find an internet cafe to post this.


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