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 Laos: Safe and Thriving?

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The Pride King
The Pride King

Male Number of posts : 310
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Registration date : 2007-10-24

PostSubject: Laos: Safe and Thriving?   Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:59 pm

Due to the recent negative media attention, it seems more and more as though Laos may not be a safe place. Earlier this year, Laos and the Hmong community were shocked when General Vang Pao was indicted on charges of trying to overthrow the Lao government. This has naturally led to strains between the relationship with the United States and the country we call our homeland. And even more recently, the arrests and disappearance of three St. Paul Hmong men has certainly drawn negative attention towards Laos.

Laos has, however, been more prosperous than ever before. The economy continues to boom with tourists from all over the world. Airlines are one of the main elements that have directly benefited from seeing the consistently increasing tourism numbers. Since the last decade, Laos has continued to increase the quality of their airports, adding new ones in different provinces and updating existing airports into full-blown international standard airports. In the past, tourists visiting the country often had to travel by a slow boat on one of Laos' many rivers or by outdated vehicles on dangerous off-roads. Laos' ever growing road pavement plans have also been set in motion, allowing for people to be able to get from here to there on safer roads that use more reliable and comfortable sources of transportation.

But despite these changes, HMONG TIMES has learned from two local travel agencies that flights to Laos in November and December - the most popular months in which to visit Laos - have seen at least a 20% decrease in sales. Sales representatives for the agencies say this is highly unusual because tickets are usually completely booked at this time of year. The travel agencies have expressed that the recent negative attention to the country has played a role in the decrease of the sales. They still encourage Hmong-American tourists to visit and see what the country has to offer.

This does not change the minds of the thousands of European travelers who do see what this country has to offer. Europeans have long loved touring the country of Laos, due to its history with French-colonial architecture and its growing number of cities with a UNESCO World Heritage City status. It is in this country that colorful festivals are held year round for reasons as different as the number of ethnic groups that call Laos home. From the donation and offering celebrations held in the beginning of the year, to the candlelight processions of Buddha during the sixth full moon, to the September Boat Racing Festivals on the mighty Mekong River, or the numerous weeks-long Hmong New Year celebrations at the end of the year; Europeans know these festivals are too good of an experience to pass up. Also a popular choice is: Boun Pi Mai - or Lao New Year held every year in April. This is the wildest celebration Laos has to offer with huge water fights and parades in the streets every night to "cleanse" for the new year. It is the only time of year when Laos does not live up to it's usually "sleepy" title.

Buddhist temples and mountain treks can be experienced every day, as well as elephant rides. The surroundings of mountains and big sky are breathtaking. The most beautiful locally handmade crafts are available on the streets for prices beyond affordable. Food that is cooked and sold right on the streets allows one to experience all of the natural and deliciously fresh local dishes and produce that Laos has to offer. These are merely some of the reasons that have made the Laos such an attractive tourism spot. No matter how old or young you are, it would be favorable to come and visit the Hmong homeland and become aware of the reasons why Laos has always been considered "The Jewel of the Mekong River."

To help while you are in Laos, there are a number of precautions a tourist can take to avoid possible difficulties. Remember that this is, after all, a journey to a new destination. Any necessary immunizations needed should be taken care of well in advance to your trip. Contacting the U.S. Embassy when you reach your destination is also a safe idea and by notifying them of your presence in the country, the U.S. Embassy will be able to help you in time of need. Also, one should always stay away from any activity that may be illegal-if it's not allowed in your home country, it's probably not safe to do it in another one, either. No matter how old or young you are, the Hmong people need not let their fears overcome the real purpose of this trip-a culturally enriching and safe experience in the country they call home.
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Registration date : 2007-11-09

PostSubject: Re: Laos: Safe and Thriving?   Fri Nov 09, 2007 11:11 pm

Dang, I wish that everything was safe there. That there wasn't poverty. No more war.
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