The thing about travel memories is that they never really fade. All it takes is a song, a smell or just hearing an accent and I am quickly transported back to lands afar.
This week I was transported back to Laos - a country with a special soul that captured me hook, line and sinker. While saddened by the recent plane crash that killed many locals and tourists, I was also uplifted after seeing a movie called “The Rocket” - a beautiful, subtitled film set in Laos.
The movie is centered around a family, how they adapt to change and tragedy in the name of progress and, as the name suggests, a Rocket Festival. The festival (Boun Bang Fai) takes place every year in Laos and involves home-made, large bamboo rockets being fired into the clouds as a call for rain and as a celebration of fertility.
I am still amused by the irony of this real-life festival. During the American/Vietnam War, Laos became the most heavily bombed country on earth and in a typical year experts still destroy up to 65,500 unexploded ordinances. Every year, limbs and lives are still lost by innocent children and farmers playing in the fields.
Despite the irony, I hope countries like Laos hold on to these local festivals. Many places in Asia are fast losing their identity and becoming victims of the ‘help’ and ‘infrastructure’ that other countries (predominantly China) are providing. Of course, it is purely goodwill and no self interest in it for the Chinese .........
These images show some of the reasons why I hope that Laos stays forever Laos.