Location: Luang Prabang, Laos.
Target Year Groups: Y9 to Y13
Maximum number of students: 24
Approximate cost: HK$14,000
This is a repeat trip for us this year, following it’s great success in 2016. Please see below the proposed itinerary for 2017.

Trip Leader: Mr Andy York

Please note that parents are responsible for the arrangement of visas if required. Please ensure that your child’s passport is valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of departure from their destination.

 

THE ECO-BUNGALOW PROJECT

Students participating in the Quest Week 2017 project will build and develop an Adobe clay Eco-Bungalow that will be rented to visiting ecologically minded tourists. The bungalow will provide one village in the Luang Prabang district the opportunity to generate their own alternative income from small scale tourism. Since the culture and traditions of the village should be respected and maintained a limited number of visitors per day are granted stay in the bungalow.

Tiger Trail Outdoor Adventure, a Fair Trek certified company based in Luang Prabang, has agreed to promote the Eco-Bungalow as part of their community based tourism projects. The tour operator will guide small groups to the village and after each visit ensure that payments to the Eco-Bungalow and the village fund are made accordingly.

SOCIAL OUTPUT FROM THE ECO-BUNGALOW
The bungalow will provide the village with a facility that will generate cash income as well as labor opportunities for years to come. This facility is now working and effective, with 105 bookings made in the completed bungalow from tourists in
2016.

The bungalow will also demonstrate how villagers in the future can build their own eco-friendly house cost effectively. The raw materials for the clay bricks can be found on site, providing a self-sufficient and natural source of building materials.

Cash income is also distributed to the village community as a product of the homestay agreement. In consultation with the Chief of each village, World Volunteer ensures that that every family in the village has a chance to benefit from this agreement. Starting from a modest 920USD in 2011, this community income amount has risen every year to a total of 22,655USD in 2016. This trend clearly shows how every volunteer has a positive and measurable effect on the communities we work with.
Laos - step 12

DAY 1
The flight from Hong Kong leaves in the morning and arrives late afternoon in Luang Prabang via a connectiong flight through Hanoi or Bangkok. Minivans will pick us up at the airport and drop us off at the hotel. After a brief check-in at the hotel and group orientation we walk to our friends restaurant, the Big Tree Cafe and enjoy an authentic local dinner alongside the Mekong River. We get back to the hotel at around 9:30pm.

DAY 2
The day starts bright and early with a healthy breakfast before being picked up by our transport. After a short drive we continue on foot through the Laos jungle. It is an incredible hike through the lush mountainside taking in break-taking scenery. After arriving at the village we will divide into smaller home-stay groups and be introduced to our host family.

Laos - sceneLaos - village

All participants will get a phrase book in order to be comfortable with the host. After a typical Laos lunch in our new home we will take a tour of the village and the project site where we will get an introduction to the building process and our work for the week. After dinner in our homestays at 6pm, we meet as a group for a bonfire – a perfect setting to discuss our experiences so far and our aims for the week. Bedtime in the village is 9:00 pm.

DAY 3 & 4
Let the work begin! The day begins with a yoga class as the sun comes up before breakfast. This is a great way to start the day. Breakfast is served around 7.30am. After breakfast we meet at the project site where we’re divided into working groups that rotate at the various working stations as the day progresses.

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We have a fruit break around 10am and have a two hour lunch break at 12pm. We get back to the site again at around 2pm and work through until 5pm.

After a delicious evening meal we meet again for an evening activity. These activities include learning about the communities’
spiritual beliefs by visiting the home of the village Shaman, hearing traditional Laos stories and creation myths from village
elders, reflecting on the day around a bonfire, as well as interacting with our homestay families and enjoying some well-deserved down time!

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DAY 5
This is the last day in the village. Believe us, the time flies. After breakfast we take a hike in the foothills surrounding the village to to gain a better understanding of the local geography and enjoy some great views.

After lunch we visit the village school. Volunteers can organise coaching sessions in football, rugby, volleyball and badminton as well as making space for good old fashioned playtime with the children! Jump-rope, rattan ball and tag are village favourites!

For our final evening in the village we will be invited to a traditional Baci ceremony. This is a unique and special ceremony carried out by the village elders as a way to show their appreciation for all our hard work at the project site. It is a very moving experience and something a volunteer will never forget.

Laos - hikeLaos - baci

DAY 6
Water fall day! We get up early and hike to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfall. It’s a three hour walk through the Laos jungle and a perfect opportunity to bring the camera. We will spend the morning swimming and jumping in the turquoise pools.

After lunch we visit the nearby Black Bear Rescue Center before getting taking minivans back to Luang Prabang and our hotel.

In the evening we have dinner along the Mekong River. On our way home to the guesthouse we do some shopping at the night market. We get back to the guesthouse at around 9:30pm.

Laos - waterfallLoas - Bear

DAY 7
After breakfast we visit some of the many beautiful temples in the area. We learn about the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang and its colonial history. After lunch we take a relaxing boat ride up the river to the Pak Ou Caves. It’s a fantastic way to experience the beautiful Lao countryside way of life. On our way back to the hotel we stop by UXO Laos: a charitable organisation which aims to safely remove unexploded ordnance in Laos that remains from the Vietnam War. In the evening we enjoy our last night with a party together playing volleyball at a great restaurant overlooking the Mekong River.

Laos - unesco 1Laos - Pak-Ou-CavesLaos - Pak Ou Caves

DAY 8
We leave Luang Prabang in the morning with a connecting flight in Hanoi or Bangkok. The group arrives back in Hong Kong in the late afternoon.

NOTE: Whilst staying in the village accommodation is very basic. Pairs of pupils will be hosted by local families who will provide 3 meals per day and a sleeping space. Washing is performed at a standpipe and it is essential that girls bring or purchase a sarong to use in this situation.

PRE-COURSE ACTIVITIES
In order for the participating students to get as much experience, knowledge and enjoyment from the trip to Laos as possible, World Volunteer will prepare the students before the departure in a seminar. The preparatory seminar sessions can be arranged at the school or online. The seminar usually includes topics on cultural sensitivity, specific development challenges facing Laos and an in-depth explanation of the development output of the Eco-Bungalow project. All students will receive a pre-departure information pack containing YouTube videos, articles and other online material in order to gain further insight of the project and the destination. If needed, an information meeting for parents can also be arranged during the same evening.

POST-COURSE ACTIVITIES
On return to Hong Kong a second seminar will be arranged. During this seminar we present your project video. This short, professionally produced, film is yours to keep and showcases our time in Laos and the village. We will also take the students through a series of reflective exercises looking back on the experiences in Laos. Students will be able to follow the development of the project via our Facebook group page as well as receiving quarterly email updates.

OUR SERVICE PROVIDER: WORLD VOLUNTEER

World Volunteer is a social enterprise whose mission is to create sustainable development opportunities for some of the globe’s poorest communities. We do this by creating high impact service learning experiences for our volunteer students, whose schools understand and want to accelerate positive social change.