Alert – Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions

from CDC

What is the current situation?

On October 8, 2015, the government of Laos notified the World Health Organization of a case of polio. CDC recommends that all travelers to Laos be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.

 What is polio?

Polio is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is mainly spread by person-to-person contact. Polio can also be spread by drinking water or other drinks or eating raw or undercooked food that are contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. Most people recover completely. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function in the arms or legs (usually the legs); if there is loss of function of the muscles used for breathing or infection of the brain, death can occur.

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For those who can’t handle spice or would like to take a break from fried, local street food, baguette sandwiches, and pancakes, Vang Vieng has a few options of western food available. The following are restaurants I have personally been to as well as a consensus from other travellers’ opinions I have come across. Lao food is also available at these restaurants. Prices and opening hours are seasonal so you will have to check with the restaurants’ web links.

Aussie Bar – Best Burger – Known for the biggest and most delicious burger in town. They are situated in the northeast corner of town, just south of the river. Perfect place to catch a game or cheap beers. The monster burger is 4 meat patties, 4 layers of bacon, cheese, eggs, the works! Eat more than two of these, and you’ll have broken the record in one sitting.


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photo from freindship

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Naga fireball

Naga fireballs (Thai: บั้งไฟพญานาค; rtgsbang fai phaya nak), also known as Mekong lights, and “bung fai paya nak” by the locals, is a phenomenon said to be often seen on the Mekong River. Glowing balls are alleged to naturally rise from the water high into the air.[1]The balls are said to be reddish and to range in size from smaller sparkles up to the size of basketballs.[2] They quickly rise up to a couple of hundred metres before disappearing. The number of fireballs reported varies between tens and thousands per night


The fireballs are most often reported around the night of Wan Ok Phansa at the end of the Buddhist Lent in late-October.[4]

Naga fireballs have been reported over an approximately 250 kilometre long section of Mekong river with the centre of this section approximately at Phon Phisai town in Amphoe Phon Phisai. Balls have also been reported rising from smaller rivers, lakes and ponds in this region.[2]

Causes and beliefs

Although the fireballs are regularly seen on the river during the Phayanak festival, a 2002 iTV documentary showed Laotian soldiers firing tracer rounds into the air across the river from the festival. Dunning suggests that it would be impossible for anyone across the half-mile river to hear a gunshot because it would take 2.5 seconds for the sound to travel to the spectators, and by then the crowd watching has already noticed the light and started cheering, drowning out the sound when it would reach them.[5]

Some individuals have attempted to scientifically explain the phenomenon. One explanation is that the fireball is a result of flammable phosphine gas generated by the marshy environment.[6] However, skeptic Brian Dunning writes that such fireballs are very unlikely to spontaneously ignite, and would not stay lit when traveling at the speeds the fireballs are seen rising at, and that there is no science that can explain “the Naga Fireballs to be naturally produced burning gas bubbles.”[5]

A similar explanation involves a similar phenomenon in plasma physics. A free-floating plasma orb,[7] created when surface electricity (e.g., from a capacitor) is discharged into a solution. However, most plasma ball experiments are conducted using high voltage capacitors, microwave oscillators, or microwave ovens, rather than in natural conditions.

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Laos – Travelling up north, to Nong Khiaw

Get beneath the surface - The InsideVietnam Blog

Our IAT tour leader, Tara, took a trip around northern Laos recently and brought back some great photos with her! Below is her post from the region – enjoy!


Not too many travellers make it up to Nong Khiaw and get to see the stunning mountainous landscapes of the north of Laos. But they should!

Nong Khiaw region provides some amazing hiking experiences as well as leisurely walks along the terraced rice paddy fields.

Cruising along the Nam Ou river will reward you with breathtaking scenery and warm-hearted encounters with friendly villagers.


About one hour upstream from Nong Khiaw, you will find the sleepy town of Muang Ngoi. It’s a place where daily routine revolves around community life, chickens and cows are an ubiquitous part of streetlife and kids play with whatever they can find.

                                                                   -Find that chicken 😉
And friendly foreigners are welcomed to participate in local life.
We recently met three British girls, spending part of their…

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The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world

 The Mekong is the most important river for most of SE Asia as it crosses or borders, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and VietNam.  We will be using several sources and will give the links to them so you can do more research if interested.

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