Category Archives:Eco-holidays

Voluntourism in Vang Vieng, Laos


Blue Lagoon Huts
Blue Lagoon Huts

Vang Vieng sits nestled between enchanting limestone spires that house massive labyrinths of intricately carved cave systems. Monkeys sing out from the neighbouring jungle, as the traditions of many hundreds of years continue on in peace and tranquillity. However, in the lasts twenty years, the town has gone from a relatively unknown river-front village in northern Laos, to a bustling tourism hotspot. And it’s easy to see why so many have gravitated to this delightfully breathtaking town. Hordes of people flock to the area each year to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and partake in the infamous tubing on the Nam Song River. But with so much growth in the area, in such a short amount of time, and with relatively no infrastructure, the local environment has suffered the consequences. At this very moment, more land is being clear-cut in order to expand or build new hotels to accommodate the ever-growing number of visitors. Luckily, the S.A.E. Lao Project has set out a new and exciting program for the surrounding area’s conservation – and they need your help!

Located in Nathong Village, just 7km outside of Vang Vieng, S.A.E. Lao Project is a place for volunteers to immerse themselves in the local culture while giving a helping hand to the community. I had the opportunity to meet, and have a chat with, the owner of this facility and was amazed with what I heard. Bob was born in Vang Vieng and over the years had witnessed first-hand the changes that have been taking place in the area. And although the tourism industry created jobs for the local people, there are also many environmental problems that have been created by that same industry. Bob has taken a stand and vowed to build a positive community centre with a focus on environmental sustainability. A hub for innovative and creative thinking, S.A.E. Lao Project has many objectives; from teaching sustainable building practices and waste management systems, to teaching children and young adults English, as well as creating jobs for Laotian people.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

When travelling through Laos, you’ll notice many places that sell traditional handmade textiles. Most of these places pay extremely low wages to the people who actually make these wares. One of the first things that jumped out to me at S.A.E. Lao Project was that the textiles here were slightly more expensive than the ones I had seen previously at stores in town. Bob explained that part of his vision is to pay the craftsmen who make these items a fair wage for their efforts.

SAE Lao Project
SAE Lao Project

Weaving these intricate designs takes time and skill and the people who make them should be compensated fairly, not just the owners of the stores who sell them. There was even a weaving station on the grounds that a local woman was using and it was such a treat to watch the process of how these beautiful objects are made. With so many of the people in this area living below the poverty line, it feels good knowing that the money spent here on these textiles will actually go to the artist who made them.

If you have a chance to visit Laos, why not spend some of your time giving back to community? The area around the S.A.E. Lao Project grounds is the perfect backdrop to an unforgettable holiday. With the crystal clear turquoise waters of Blue Lagoon and the famous Poukham Cave system just minutes away, you’ll never be far from adventure!  A very rewarding and uplifting experience, volunteering at S.A.E. Lao Project will enable you to enjoy a different side of Laos, a more genuine side. You’ll have a chance to interact with the local people and learn about the local culture instead of just observing as an outsider. Be a part of the solution, and check out the opportunities available at S.A.E. Lao Project today!

Owner: Bob (Sengkeo Frichitthavong)  [email protected]  [email protected] 


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 Click here to read more about Tina’s adventures on her blog.

Meet Stanley: The Latest Resident of Outback NSW

While the Japanese are always making things smaller, here in Australia it’s the bigger the better! Whether it’s the Big Banana, the 9 meter long Big Prawn or the Great Barrier Reef, Australia is the home of larger-than-life attractions.

stanley2Now, the inland New South Wales town of Lightning Ridge has joined in on fun with the launch of its 18-metre tall emu named Stanley.

The environmentally-friendly sculpture, designed by local artist John Murray, was created using scrap metal sourced from three Volkswagen bodies, a pair of satellite dishes and even materials from the old Dubbo police station.

The construction was a community effort, with all of the work, labour and materials donated from locals.

Alongside the unveiling of Stanley, Walgett Shire Council has launched the ‘Sculptures by the Highway’ competition, inviting submissions from budding artists for the opportunity to build up to five large sculptures on the side of Castlereagh Highway.

The winner, to be announced in October, will receive a cash prize of $10,000.

What’s the biggest manmade thing you’ve ever seen?

5 Shocking Eco-UNfriendly Holidays

In the past couple of decades we have become increasingly concerned about how our actions are affecting the Earth both for us and for future generations. Eco-tourism is a hot topic at the moment, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the most shocking eco-unfriendly holidays.

Four-Wheel Driving Holidays

Many people who head overseas like to hire a big 4-wheel drive vehicle for taking them around the sites. While they may be very practical, they are causing tremendous damage to the environment. Sometimes 4-wheel drive vehicles are necessary to be able to see some of the most isolated regions of the world, so it can be a difficult decision. These types of vehicles use up huge amounts of gas – so if you have to use one you should find a model that is as fuel efficient as possible.

Don’t drive 4-wheel drives when it’s unnecessary – such as around the streets of a city – swap them for a smaller, more fuel-efficient car or even a hybrid.

4x4 driving
4×4 driving is not Mother Nature’s best friend

Arriving by Plane

By far the most eco-unfriendly way to travel is by plane. The carbon footprint you leave after even a short flight is immense, however unfortunately it is often the only way we can get to many destinations. Why not try taking a holiday somewhere closer to home where you can drive or catch a train to? The Earth will thank you.

Skydiving Holidays

Skydiving may seem like a harmless adventure activity, but every time a plane takes a new person up it is using large amounts of fuel that are undoubtedly damaging to the environment. For a more eco-friendly thrill, try Base jumping.

Ski Resort Holidays

Recent studies have shown that many of the world’s ski resorts are causing huge damage to the surrounding environments. Although ski resorts are starting to respond to the concern of their patrons, most still have a long way to go.

Skiing is damaging to wildlife – as it disturbs their natural habitat. Additionally, the way that ski resorts flatten the ski runs changes the way vegetation grows and also involves chopping down trees.

It looks beautiful now...
It looks beautiful now…

Before booking a ski holiday, make sure your resort is making changes to ensure it is causing minimal damage to the environment.

Space Shuttle Flights

While this may not be an issue right now – it may certainly cause concern in the near future. As the launch (excuse the pun) of space shuttle flights for tourists is fast approaching, environmentalists are becoming increasingly worried about the effects it will have on the Earth. The main damage is done during the launch – which requires millions of gallons of fuel to get the rocket off the ground; imagine this on a regular basis.