Saibadee from Laos,
A Bit Of Info About Laos
Probably the least visited country in Southeast Asia, it has been called one of the last quiet countries on earth. It also has the least disturbed ecosystem in Southeast Asia. Hopefully it can stay that way.
In comparison to other Asian countries, Laos is a sparse population of 6 million. Vientiane the capital has about 200,000 people. This country is a former French colony. This influence can be seen in some of the architecture, restaurants and people. Many of the older generation speak fluent French. Everyone seems to have been in Laos at some time, the Siamese had control of it as well as the Japanese. It became a communist country with the support of Vietnam.
Bombed Beyond Comprehension
The tragedy about Laos is the bombs that were carpeted over it between 1964-73 by the United States. The amount was over 2 million tons of bombs of which 40 percent failed to explode. Someone calculated that if you took all the bombs here and dropped one each minute that it would last for 8 years straight!
U.S. planes were told not to come back with ammunition from Vietnam so they would let it all loose over Laos. Thousands of civilians have died since 1973 and the count continues to rise. There are several countries that have people here trying to clean up the undetonated bombs. They say it will take several lifetimes to remove them all.
All About The Currency Confusion
The currency here is quite a complex system. They unofficially use a 3 tiered currency system with their Laos Kip, the Thai Baht and the US dollar. At time of writing one Canadian dollar equalled about 8900 Kip, but their money can be very unstable and change value quickly.
It can get very confusing paying for things, a calculator on hand is a must. The prices of some items are listed in Kip, others in US dollars. When you get a bill at a restaurant it sometimes comes with 5 different options of how to pay! An amount will be listed in Kip, Baht, Euro, US dollars and a higher US dollar amount if you want to pay with a credit card. Your change may come in a combination of Kip and Baht to further complicate matters!
Look we’re millionaires!!
This is about 560 thousand kip. The currency for Laos. It is worth about $56 US dollars. It is not uncommon to see someone open up their wallet to expose several inches of bills.
Laos Is A Very Inexpensive Place To Travel
Laos is a very poor country with a person making $100 U.S. a month considered to be a very lucky middle class citizen. Over 80% of the people make their living from farming. We can hardly believe how cheap it is here. We thought Thailand was cheap. A typical meal for two can be had for $5 or under. There are fancier restaurants, especially in Vientiane where you can get the bill price up, but still very cheap compared to western standards.
Guest house rooms can be as low as $3 a night. $10 to $15 will get you something very nice. We have seen advertising for apartments for rent in Vientiane for $150 U.S. including hot water, cable and laundry and cleaning service.
Many Varieties Of Animals, Some Of Rare Existence
There are many exotic and rare species of animals in Laos, some were thought to be extinct in Southeast Asia until they were discovered still living here. Some of them include species of monkeys, flying squirrels, civets, leopard cats, Asian mountain goats, and a type of wild cattle, and two types of rhinos. There are about 200 to 500 wild elephants that roam the open canopy forests throughout the country.