Traditional Medicine

Throughout Southeast Asia, traditional medical systems are widely practised. There is a big difference between these traditional healing systems and 'folk' medicine. Folk remedies should be avoided, as they often involve rather dubious procedures with potential complications. In comparison, traditional healing systems such as traditional Chinese medicine are well respected, and aspects of them are being increasingly utilised by Western medical practitioners. All traditional Asian medical...

Activities Bowling

Vientiane's bowling alleys are a fun diversion popular among travellers and locals alike. Watching some of the local form is certainly entertaining, but we've also heard an evening's bowling rationalised as a chance to drink plenty of Beerlao while 'working it off with a bit of exercise'. 'Exercise' You be the judge. Lao Bowling Centre (Map p92 s 218661 Th Khun Bulom per frame USSl 1.20 before after 7pm S Sam-midnight) A short stroll from town. Book ahead on weekends. Vientiane Bowling Centre...

Arts

The focus of most traditional art in Lao culture has been religious, specifically Buddhist. Yet, unlike the visual arts of Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, Lao art never encompassed a broad range of styles and periods, mainly because Laos has a much more modest history in terms of power and because it has only existed as a political entity for a short period. Furthermore, since Laos was intermittently dominated by its neighbours, much of the art that was produced was either destroyed or, as in...

Crossing The Cambodian Border At Dom Kralor Voen Kham

This remote border has become a popular crossing point on the Indochina circuit. It also seems to be in a permanent state of change, so keeping up with the details is difficult. When we went to press there were actually two different border points. Laos does not issue visas at this border. The most popular route south goes via Dom Kralor and the new Chinese-built road to Stung Treng, where Cambodia issues visas on arrival (US 20). From the islands most travellers are taking a backpacker bus...

Know Your Boat

Following are some of the heua (boats) that you may encounter In your adventures along Laos's many waterways heua saa (double-deck boats) - big, old boats almost extinct heua duan (express boat) - roofed cargo boats, common on the Huay Xal to Luang Prabang route they're slow, but called 'express' because they're faster than double-deck boats heua wai (speedboat) - these resemble a surfboard with a car engine strapped to the back very fast, exhilarating, deafeningly loud, uncomfortable and...

Whereto Trek

The best way to get into the wilderness is on a trek into one of Laos's National Protected Areas (NPAs). Most treks have both a cultural and environmental focus, with trekkers sleeping in village homestays (p48) and your money going directly into some ofthe poorest communities in the country. These treks are mostly run by provincial tourism authorities and have English-speaking guides. They can be organised once you arrive or in advance by phone, and are the cheapest trekking options available....

Malaria Medication

There are a variety of medications available. The effectiveness of the Chloroquine and Paludrine combination is now limited in most of Southeast Asia. Common side effects include nausea (40 of people) and mouth ulcers. It is generally not recommended. Lariam (Mefloquine) has received much bad press, some of it justified, some not. This weekly tablet suits many people. Serious side effects are rare but include depression, anxiety, psychosis and seizures. Anyone with a history of depression,...

Medical Checklist

Recommended items for a personal medical kit antifungal cream, eg Clotrimazole antibacterial cream, eg Muciprocin antibiotics for skin infections, eg Amoxicillin Clavulanate or Cephalexin antibiotics for diarrhoea, eg Norfloxacin or Ciprofloxacin Azithromycin for bacterial diarrhoea and Tinidazole for giardiasis or amoebic dysentery antihistamines for allergies, eg Cetrizinefor daytime and Promethazine for night antinausea medication, eg Prochlorperazine antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, eg...

Recommended Vaccinations

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travellers to Southeast Asia Adult diphtheria and tetanus - Single booster recommended if you've had none in the previous 10 years. Side effects include a sore arm and fever. Hepatitis A - Provides almost 100 protection for up to a year a booster after 12 months provides at least another 20 years' protection. Mild side effects such as headache and a sore arm occur for between 5 and 10 of people. Hepatitis B - Now...

Vaccinations

The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days prior to entering Southeast Asia. If you are travelling to Southeast Asia from Africa or South America you should check to see if you require proof of vaccination. Specialised travel-medicine clinics are your best source of information they stock all available vaccines and will be able to give specific...

Phu Xieng Thong NPA

Although the majority of the 1200 sq km Phu Xieng Thong NPA www.ecotourismlaos.com lies in Salavan Province, its most accessible areas are about 50km upriver from Pakse. The area features scrub, mixed monsoon deciduous forest and exposed sandstone ridges and cavelike outcroppings, some of which contain prehistoric paintings. On the Thai side of the Mekong is Pha Taem National Park. The Phu Xieng Thong NPA is home to a range of wildlife, including important concentrations of banteng, green...

Bus From Vientiane To Lak

If the hellish 24-hour bus journey between Vientiane and Hanoi doesn't appeal, take local transport instead and stop to enjoy some of central Laos along the way. d aBaijojjttaij njj riBnj Heading east along Rte 13 you'll come to the sleepy yet picturesque village of Pak Kading, 187km from Vientiane. Pak Kading sits just upstream from the junction of the Mekong River and the Nam Kading, one of the most pristine rivers in Laos - for now see p65 . Flowing through a forested valley surrounded by...

Guesthouses

MUMM Mali Namphu Guest House Map p92 g 215093 114 Th Pangkham r ind breakfast US 11 -17 E A few metres north of Nam Phu, this attractive 40-room place is built around a pleasant courtyard. The rooms vary in size and are not huge, but they are spotless, and the staff are both efficient and eager to please. Dragon Lodge Map p92 250112 dragon Iodge2002 yahoo.com Th Samsenthai r US 12-30 E Rooms here are spotless, comfortable and well kitted out, if a bit dark. Readers have written with mixed...

Going To Long Cheng The Cias Secret City Andrew Burke

Long Cheng, the CIA's 'secret city' in its long war in Laos, had been somewhere I'd wanted to visit for years. Finally, it seemed, with the Saisombun Special Zone pi29 disbanded, getting there would be possible. So with rented dirt bikes, sunglasses and full tanks of gas, my friend Wil and I set off from Vang Vieng. First, though, a little background From the early 1960s until May 1975, Long Cheng also spelt Long Tien was the heart and soul of the American war against communism in Laos. Long...