Saturday, October 16, 2010

Andrew in the provinces - Trip 2 Xieng Khouang - part 1

The second trip I left on Sunday morning at 10am to catch a tuktuk to the airport about 8 km away. Traffic was light so it only took 20 minutes. For domestic flights you are expected to arrive 2 hours before departure.

 Our 30 minute flight was late departing by an hour and a half. Arrived at Xien Khouang and immediately set off on a six hour drive to the provincial capital, arriving 10pm.

My Min of Ed colleague heading to the terminal

Breakfast the next morning was noodles at a local café. The 1st meeting with the provincial people was 8am. At 11 we collected our bags, had an early lunch and set off on a four hour drive. The countryside was interesting. This was where the revolutionary fighters lived in caves during the 1975 coup. In the caves were full communities with schools and hospitals.

The roads were sealed and the last half the journey the road had only been completed in 2005 (I suspect funded by donor monies). There are some major challenges in government needs and aligning donor aims. Donors include World Bank, ADB, AusAid, EU and some individual country aid programs, Japanese and other NGOs. And they operate independently.

In the district Xamtai we had a discussion about financial management for an hour and a half. The district had no fax and were looking forward to internet being available in the area in November. I have seen forms being completed using some very antiquated typewriters.

We arrived at the guesthouse and the power was off. A candle was provided to see the way up the stairs. It was a cold water shower. The accommodation in the guesthouses was unique, short and very hard beds, showers that did not work or had only cold water. All character forming experiences.

I was advised we had a dinner being provided by the education people. The district governor chaired the dinner with lots of toasts. Usual fare of sticky rice, fish and soup.

Up in the mountains the temperatures was substantially cooler than in Vientiane. It is the first time I have worn a light merino jumper.

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