Trip Leaders: Ms Justine Oliver & Mr Ben Woods
Please note that parents are responsible for the arrangement of visas if required. Visas MUST be obtained IN ADVANCE of the trip even if the Visa on arrival option if valid for travel to your child’s destination. 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 – Project background
There is a need for ethnic minority communities in the northern part of the country to diversify their income away from dependence on traditional subsistence living. This is essential to improving livelihood and welfare, as well as empowering these villages socially, economically and politically.
Tourism has proven to be the most sustainable form of income for the regional economy. Better still, tourist appetite is increasingly towards experiences traditional Asian culture and customs, which has seen growth in Laos and eco-tourism. As they expand, few operators understand how to engage ethnic minority groups, to be sensitive their needs, whilst providing tourists with an authentic experience.
Our mission is to provide opportunities for ethnic minority groups to share their fascinating culture and environmental beauty in a way that makes sense to them. Through eco-tourism they can engage, develop, manage and control a sustainable form of income that is consistent with their values. This simultaneously improves the welfare of their communities whilst guaranteeing a more authentic experience
for visiting tourists. Everybody wins.
Students participating in the Quest Week 2018 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 a stay in the bungalow.
In some of our partnership communities, the second phase of the Eco-Bungalow Project is starting to take shape. This will include creating a space for visitors to relax after a long hike, gain a better understanding of the local food and culture, as well as providing the perfect setting for other community activities and workshops.
The bungalow will also demonstrate how villagers in the future build their own house in a cost effective way. The raw materials for the clay bricks can be found on site, providing a self-suficient and natural source of building materials.
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.
The flight arrives in Luang Prabang in the afternoon. World Volunteer staff will pick you up at the airport and minivans will and drop us of at our hotel in the center of town, itself a UNESCO World Heritage site. After a brief check-in at the hotel and a group orientation, we walk to our friends’ restaurant and enjoy an
authentic local dinner. We get back to the hotel around 9:30 pm.
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 with breathtaking scenery. This provides an important opportunity to learn about the challenges of daily life and farming in this region of Laos.
After arriving at the village we divide into homestay groups and are introduced to our host family. After a nutritious Laos lunch in our new home we take a tour of the village and the project site where we will receive an introduction to the building process and our work for the week. After dinner in our home-stays at 6pm, we meet as a group for a bonfire – a perfect setting to discuss our experiences so far and our aims for the
DAY 3 & 4
Let the work begin! After breakfast we meet at the project site where we are divided into working groups
that rotate at the various working stations as the day progresses. We have a fruit break around 10am and have a two hour lunch break at 12pm. We get back to the site again 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!
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.
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.
First thing this morning, we have the unique opportunity to partake in morning alms. It is an amazing sight as hundreds of monks and locals take part in the ceremony.
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.
In the evening we will visit some Buddhist monks, so to learn about the life of a monk and they will explain what we have seen today. All this before a final meal and trip to the market.
We will wake up early for breakfast and check out!
We just have time to stop by UXO Laos: a charitable organisation which aims to safely remove unexploded ordnance in Laos.
It is then time to head to the airport and get ready for the flight home.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sleeping & Privacy
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.
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.