May 31. Worst War crimes ever?

Cornflakes and coffee, and it’s already ten. Lazy bastards, you think. Where’s the early morning gymnastics, the 2-mile-walk, the 150 pushups and the rigor-vigor?

Anyway, we visit COPE today and have a good look at the museum that displays handmade prostheses, we are talking about wooden leg, cast iron pparts nailed together with rusty nails, old bottles turned into a cast and wooden sticks. There was a man who used his homemade leg for thirty years before he received a real fitting prosthesis from COPE. They have a huge mirror with a leg in front of it where you can lean on with your knee, looking at yourself as a cripple. This makes us realize the dramatic changes in self-perception (and self-confidence) people have when the lose a leg overnight. Also on display are ‘bombies’, the contents of a clusterbomb that disperse over a huge area. And the big fife hundred pounders. More than 500,000 missions were flown during those eight miserable years of warcrime. It still outrages me, I mean the US should pay 100,000,000,000,000 to Laos for a start and then apologize every single minute for what they have done. Unlike in Vietnam, fighter pilots could just dispose their load at wish and did so to get rid of the frustrating restrictions in Vietnam. They bombed everything that moved. And now, thirty years later, millions of deadly bombies are scattered along the Ho Chi Minh trail and in other large areas of the country. Some areas are so saturated that in every village you find someone missing a leg – or a close relative. We also watch a video about clearing the UXO’s, starring a former Australian soldier who teaches a team of locals how to deal with the rusty old bombs.

Their donating concept is brilliant: you can donate a leg for 50 dollars. It cost 50 dollars to produce a leg prosthesis. We donate four legs and a “brick in the wall”, another great fundraising technique. They have a wall with virtual (plastic) bricks with the logos of sponsors on them. We have learned a lot and are happy when we return to the city.

We have to return the motorbike, and we bring our luggag to the center. We have to move on once again, and so we buy a bus ticket to Vietnam, but then I realize my visa is only valid from June 2nd, so we change the date. We have to stay another day, and we follow the book. There is a guidebook “stay another day” an every visitor to Laos should use it!

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May 31. Worst War crimes ever?

Cornflakes and coffee, and it’s already ten. Lazy bastards, you think. Where’s the early morning gymnastics, the 2-mile-walk, the 150 pushups and the rigor-vigor?

Anyway, we visit COPE today and have a good look at the museum that displays handmade prostheses, we are talking about wooden leg, cast iron pparts nailed together with rusty nails, old bottles turned into a cast and wooden sticks. There was a man who used his homemade leg for thirty years before he received a real fitting prosthesis from COPE. They have a huge mirror with a leg in front of it where you can lean on with your knee, looking at yourself as a cripple. This makes us realize the dramatic changes in self-perception (and self-confidence) people have when the lose a leg overnight. Also on display are ‘bombies’, the contents of a clusterbomb that disperse over a huge area. And the big fife hundred pounders. More than 500,000 missions were flown during those eight miserable years of warcrime. It still outrages me, I mean the US should pay 100,000,000,000,000 to Laos for a start and then apologize every single minute for what they have done. Unlike in Vietnam, fighter pilots could just dispose their load at wish and did so to get rid of the frustrating restrictions in Vietnam. They bombed everything that moved. And now, thirty years later, millions of deadly bombies are scattered along the Ho Chi Minh trail and in other large areas of the country. Some areas are so saturated that in every village you find someone missing a leg – or a close relative. We also watch a video about clearing the UXO’s, starring a former Australian soldier who teaches a team of locals how to deal with the rusty old bombs.

Their donating concept is brilliant: you can donate a leg for 50 dollars. It cost 50 dollars to produce a leg prosthesis. We donate four legs and a “brick in the wall”, another great fundraising technique. They have a wall with virtual (plastic) bricks with the logos of sponsors on them. We have learned a lot and are happy when we return to the city.

We have to return the motorbike, and we bring our luggag to the center. We have to move on once again, and so we buy a bus ticket to Vietnam, but then I realize my visa is only valid from June 2nd, so we change the date. We have to stay another day, and we follow the book. There is a guidebook “stay another day” an every visitor to Laos should use it!

May 27. COPE-ing with UXOs

Our arrival in Vientiane should be different than Vientiane, I think, and stick obstinately to my idee fixe when we arrive at the bus station. NO tuktuk, we are FINE, we know our way around. We walk a couple of miles and indeed, reach central Vientiane and lose about an hour. We make ourselves comfortable in one of the affordable hotels alongside the Mekong river, freshen up, and I head out to the Vietnamese embassy for a visa. I hitch a ride with a very coooollll German guz in a Landrover, gee ce type a traversé le monde entier! He has been everywhere and Laos was a stopover for him to arrange visas for Russia, Mongolia, and Kasachstan. He has been on his way for two years doing what? Filming a documentary that he is trying to seell to German media houses. The truck plus equipment cost a fortune. Anyway, he kindly gives me a ride to the embassy since he knows where “they all are”. The American embassy I had just seen must have been a fata morgana, I learn from him. I take things for granted when they come from experienced people. So we chat and chat and finally get to the Cambodia embassy. The Vietnamese embassy was nowhere near there, and in fact I had been right in the beginning. Here I am, a guy who has navigated the whole wide freakin’ world can’t find his way around in the quiet, orderly town of Vientiane… I stick out my thumb and hitch a ride to the real Vietnamese embassy, where I can buy the relevant sticker in my passport for 50 dollars.

I also visit “COPE”, an NGO supporting people with disabilities, in particular victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO) that outrages me and every other human mind who knows about this. Their exhibition is really well done and very informative. I decide to support it and will return on Monday with Yeon.

At night, we go to a presentation about the role of women in Laos. It is what I have expected, and I enjoy it. What else? I brushed my teeth, washed my hands, and we stay at a little hostel facing the Mekong. Whatever! Vientiane is really calm and laid-back.

28
We have a brunch with a German lady, Dagmar, who tells us her compelling story: she is editing and publishing an autobiographical book about a Lao monk. It’s what keeps her here, and what keeps us listening. It is really nice and I hope she will publish the book.

May 27. COPE-ing with UXOs

Our arrival in Vientiane should be different than Vientiane, I think, and stick obstinately to my idee fixe when we arrive at the bus station. NO tuktuk, we are FINE, we know our way around. We walk a couple of miles and indeed, reach central Vientiane and lose about an hour. We make ourselves comfortable in one of the affordable hotels alongside the Mekong river, freshen up, and I head out to the Vietnamese embassy for a visa. I hitch a ride with a very coooollll German guz in a Landrover, gee ce type a traversé le monde entier! He has been everywhere and Laos was a stopover for him to arrange visas for Russia, Mongolia, and Kasachstan. He has been on his way for two years doing what? Filming a documentary that he is trying to seell to German media houses. The truck plus equipment cost a fortune. Anyway, he kindly gives me a ride to the embassy since he knows where “they all are”. The American embassy I had just seen must have been a fata morgana, I learn from him. I take things for granted when they come from experienced people. So we chat and chat and finally get to the Cambodia embassy. The Vietnamese embassy was nowhere near there, and in fact I had been right in the beginning. Here I am, a guy who has navigated the whole wide freakin’ world can’t find his way around in the quiet, orderly town of Vientiane… I stick out my thumb and hitch a ride to the real Vietnamese embassy, where I can buy the relevant sticker in my passport for 50 dollars.

I also visit “COPE”, an NGO supporting people with disabilities, in particular victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO) that outrages me and every other human mind who knows about this. Their exhibition is really well done and very informative. I decide to support it and will return on Monday with Yeon.

At night, we go to a presentation about the role of women in Laos. It is what I have expected, and I enjoy it. What else? I brushed my teeth, washed my hands, and we stay at a little hostel facing the Mekong. Whatever! Vientiane is really calm and laid-back.

28
We have a brunch with a German lady, Dagmar, who tells us her compelling story: she is editing and publishing an autobiographical book about a Lao monk. It’s what keeps her here, and what keeps us listening. It is really nice and I hope she will publish the book.