Thought for the Week with Pammy Michell

HELLO from hot Laos!

I am here with my husband Paul after visiting my son in Vietnam.

We are now travelling in SE Asia as lightly and ethically as we can.

I have been Buddhist for over 40 years, and so appreciate visiting Buddhist countries.

Laos PDR is predominantly Buddhist, as well as being one of the five remaining communist countries, and only opened to travellers in the 1990s.

It is very beautiful and unspoilt.

However, during the Vietnam war it became the most heavily bombed country in the world, resulting in huge casualties.

Around 30 per cent of the two million tons of US bombs did not explode and still remain lethal, causing many deaths and injuries, and preventing land from being used safely.

Lao people seem very philosophical and forgiving.

American travellers we meet feel humbled by the friendly welcome they receive.

What I have read about and observed is the Lao ability to ‘live in the now’ in accordance with Buddhist belief.

They do not seem to overly dwell on the horror of their recent past.

Laos is ranked 113 (of 149) in the World Prosperity Index.

Most still live on the land, farming at subsistence level.

Infrastructure and public services such as health and education, safe roads and clean water are very limited.

However, Laos is eighth in the Global Wellness Index, compared with UK at fifteenth.

There is great emphasis here on looking after each other, not only in the family, but also within the wider community.

Kindness and generosity to all are considered important values by Buddhists.

Whilst travelling, it is important to us to support projects in the countries we visit, and to continue this at home.

In particular, we plan to hold fundraising events in Stroud for MAG (Mine Action Group; and The Big Brother Mouse Literacy Project (

There are still very few books published or available here in Lao or English.

After two months travelling we are looking forward to coming home to reconnect with family and friends and help welcome our latest Syrian refugee family.

Travelling always helps me to value the importance of hospitality and welcome to all, especially strangers.

Pammy Michell