Final VWB Blog Post from Amanda!

BanSuane Everyone! This is hello as the Katan people of Laos would say it. Unfortunately this will be my last update, I feel like I have so much to tell you, and not enough time to write it all because today is was our last day in beautiful LAO PDR.

The reason I have learned a new way to say hello is because this exciting trek i spoke about down in Savannakhet province of Laos was an absolutely fantastic adventure. It started with an 8.5 hour night bus ride into Savannakhet, and then a 4 hour TukTuk ride into a smaller town, along the way we picked up some very interesting fried cicadas that some of our group was brave enough to try! where we then hiked 8km into Ban Vongsikeo, a tiny village without electricity or running water. We had two amazing guides from the Eco-Health program, Pasert and Sonexay who stayed with us during the home-stay and even cooked for us! It was very traditonal food, laap which is minced meat of choice mixed with greens, sticky rice, noodles soups for breakfast and we even got to try a very special delicacy in Lao which is ant egg soup! That’s right folks, the villagers actually pick through the nests of big red ants to get those eggs and they love it!

We spent an amazing evening exploring the village with all their beautiful children running around us. That evening we met the chief and were lucky enough to be a part of the Basi ceremony where they welcome the guests with an offering of LaoLao, the village made rice whiskey, and an evening of singing songs. The following day we got two local guides to take us on an un-pathed trek through a sacred forest because VWB is looking start working with this village to help save the endangered Langurs that live there. The reason the forest is sacred is because the villagers believe spirits are living there and whoever disturbs them by destroying any part of that forest will suffer terrible consequences. Unfortunately due to our limited schedule, after our long workout we had to hop back on to a tuktuk for 5hrs back into Savannakhet to catch the night bus back to Vientiane.

Back in Vientiane we went to visit COPE Laos (.org), which is another unrelated (for now) organization, that supports bomb victims and helps them recover and learn to cope and live with their disability. I got to meet Peter Kim who was a victim only 3 years ago, he lost both his hands and his vision. It was Anne and Tom that told us about this cause and brought us over there. I was so happy to meet them, they are absolutely amazing kind people and admire them for the work they do.

I was so sad to leave Lao PDR, it is such a beautiful country and all the VWB contributors that we got to meet were such delightful people. I really got to see first hand the amazing work that this organization that Aeroplan is supporting is doing and why they have chosen to do so. Without opportunities like this, some employees have no idea what Aeroplan as a community is doing, supporting and is capable of. The more we get involved the more we can all accomplish together. Meeting Alison Sharp was also very enlightening because gave me a lot of detail as to what Aeroplan Community Engagement really entails. I encourage everyone to read our portal and news letter and get involved because it takes both ends of the company to make us a real community and gives us the strength to support others in need.

This is where I say goodbye, Luis and Alison are on their way home, I have some vacation time so I will continue my adventure in Cambodia and Thailand. See you all in a few weeks!!

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