This March holidays, our family & the Soon family ventured to Laos! We were there to visit our World Vision sponsored children. Plus, we also took the opportunity to sight-see, and stopover in Bangkok.
It was a gruelling trip--six planes in six days! Esther was napping on the go, everywhere, everytime. On Daddy's shoulder, on the bus, on the plane, in the taxi, in the van. A structured sleep-routine Mum's worst nightmare! Of the 7 days away, I think she only got 2 structured naps. But I have to say, I was impressed with the way she held up. Having to deal with a slight time difference, sleeping at 10pm sometimes, with only 45-minute nap time during the day, I was surprised I didn't have to deal with more crying.
The boys were, of course, fine. Though the late nights did make them a bit more sour at times, I noticed.
It was lovely to meet our sponsored kids and to see their school & village. I was also heartened the way Daniel & Benjamin made friends easily, showing them origami tricks, and playing soccer with the sponsored boy. If there is one thing I'm grateful for, it is that my kids are friendly and not shy at all. Of course, this also means they are easy targets for kidnapping, but that's another story.
We also got to visit the COPE Museum, which is a centre showcasing the effects of UXO (unexploded bombs) in Laos. Did you know there are 80+ million UXOs in Laos, and the country only has 5 million people? That's the highest number of unexploded bombs per capita in the world! It was a staggering statistic.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip, in terms of sightseeing, was visiting an elephant sanctuary, where we took an elephant ride and a boat ride to a waterfall. I was amazed and proud of my daughter, who DID NOT cry while riding on the elephant. Daniel was also very brave and sat on the elephant's head. This was my second elephant ride and like the first one in Koh Samui, I was still extremely scared, clutching onto the railing with white knuckles. However, I enjoyed the elephant sanctuary because of its amazingly beautiful scenery. It really felt like virgin land, untouched, unspoiled beauty, like we were intruding upon a quiet village scene. Amazing!
As usual, upon returning to Singapore, I got the boys to reflect on what they have learnt during this trip. Both of them said that they realise how poor Laos is but that even though Laos is poor, the people are still happy. This is very true theologically--you don't have to be rich to be happy after all.
I think it was a good trip to show the kids that there are nations around us that are not as prosperous as we are, and that we need to do what we can to help them. Of course, it was also a good trip because we got to meet our two sponsored children. It was good to put faces to names, and to laugh and smile with them. Finally, it was a good opportunity for us to meet up with World Vision people and to understand their work better. I am very glad that World Vision, a Christian organisation, is helping the people of Laos!