Sunday, April 20, 2014

LIFE: Sporty Cambodians & aerobic session - Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

Just by looking at these active mid-age Cambodians make you want to put on your sneakers and get moving to the loud boom-box music at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. Waking up at 4.30 pm it totally worth it to see this wonderful morning scene of elders getting their joints loosen and their muscles active starting their daily aerobic session at 5 am (YES! At 5 am). All you couch potatoes out their should take a look at these Cambodians and get your body moved.

Foreigners are more than welcome to join their aerobic sessions, you just have to pay the more than motivated trainer 1000 riel at the end of the session. It makes you so happy to see these elder Cambodians moving their hips and enjoying the sun rise to really 90s-like trance music. Also watch Cambodian tennis players at the Olympic Stadium hitting the balls on the courts in front of the beautiful city view or watch groups of Cambodians practicing their tai chi skills.

- AJ -

Friday, April 18, 2014

PLACES: Green Climbers Home - Thakhek, Laos

This hidden treasure is a paradise for passionate rock climbers who love meeting other climbers from all over the world. It's an enjoyable stay in which you will definitely stay longer than you've planned if you like being in the nature and getting sporty on the amazing rocks full of routes from 4-6c for beginners to 8a and further.
The camp was build up two years ago by an inspiring German couple who obviously love rock climbing. When you arrive in Thakhek you can hitchhike to the camp (around 15km) down the main road route 12 until you see the sign of the camp but if it's dark you should better take a tuk tuk. Once you've walked down the sandy path away from the route 12 for about 1 km you enter the amazing camp which is hidden like a treasure in the woods of Laos. 
This is the perfect place for rock climbers. Stay in one of their bungalows, in a dorm or rent out your own tent. During eating time everyone gathers at the restaurant in the middle of the camp to hang around, to get to know each other, to find a climbing partner or to exchange experiences. It's a warm-hearted community of people from all over the world and there's no problem finding new climbing friends here.
If you're doing a rest day after exhausting days of climbing you can go swimming in the cave just behind the bungalows or hitchhike to Thakhek's center to get WiFi, food or a motorbike to discover the caves around the area.

Climb on!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PLACES: COPE exhibition - Vientiane, Laos

If you plan to visit Vientiane, the capital of Laos you shouldn't miss out the free permanent exhibition of COPE visitor center to get more educated on UXO (unexploded ordance) in Laos during and after the Vietnam war. This exhibition makes it very easy for foreigners to understand that UXO is still an issue which influences the life of one quarter of Laos' villages even though the Vietnam War ended sveral years ago.
COPE (Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) is a local run non-profit organisation which works together with the Center of Medical Rehabilitation (CMR), the Lao Ministry of health and four provincial rehabilitation centers. They provide rehabilitation to survivors of UXO and other people with disabilities across Lao PDR. Through fundraising COPE supports the costs for survivors who can not afford medical rehabilitation. 
The exhibition provides you with various documentaries e.g. the very emotional award-winning "Bomb Harvest" by Australian film maker Kim Mordaunt. Also get enough information about why there is a need for prosthetics in Lao PDR and stories of families in Laos who became victims of UXO after the Vietnam war.

Shocking facts about Lao PDR:

- Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita in history.

- More than 2 mio tons of ordance were dropped in Lao PDR during the Vietnam War between 1964 and 1973.

- Up to 30% failed to detonate and remained after the war (approximately 80 mio UXO remained throughout the country).

- About 25% of the villages in Lao PDR are still contaminated with UXO.

- More than 20000 people have been killed or injured by UXO in the post-war period from 1974 to 2011.

COPE visitor center
Campus of the Medical Rehabilitation Center (CMR)
Boulevard Khouvieng
Vientiane, Laos
- AJ -

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

LIFE: How to enjoy Vang Vieng without becoming a Zombie.

If you've never heard of the village Vang Vieng in Laos before then just google it and what you see on google pictures is excactly what you can expect here - A village full of young western backpackers who come here to party, get drunk and do drugs. It's a village where backpackers turn into "Zombies" (drunk, stoned, desoriented foreigner).
But don't neglect the beauty off this place. There are also other things to do here which won't influence your mental psyche through chemical reactions in your body.

- Leave the village centre by motorbike and go climbing at the amazing limestone rocks. Enjoy the nature and work out your physical and mental skills.

- Hang out at one of the riverside restaurants on your lazy day and spend your time watching "Friends". The perfect time killer when I'm homesick and wish I would sit on my couch with my flat mate watching "Friends" with him.

- If you're tired of the non-glamourous backpacker life go to a luxurious resort and ask if you can spend one day at their pool. They will charge 50000 kip (4,5€) for non-guests but you should treat yourself once in a while.


- AJ -