With only three days to go Gavin (my partner) and I are in the full swing of final preparations. Although we have had a great deal of information from current and past volunteers in Lao, we are still not entirely sure what to expect- we have packed our Australian standards motorcycle helmets, cotton sheets, shoes and decent shirts and are busy finding room for our "luxury" items such as boardgames and hiking gear. We are heartened by the support we have through the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program and Austraining, but we're not likely to really know what it's like until we experience it for ourselves. The AVID program is an Australian Government, AusAID initiative which deploys skilled volunteers to live and work in developing countries as part of the overseas aid program and I am very excited to be a part of it!
A mix of emotion is setting in - excitement and trepidation - with a certain sadness to leave friends and family behind for so long. It will be amazing to see how people's lives have changed and families have grown while we're away - being in our 30s it seems everyone is "settling down" and "growing up" while we're setting off on a great adventure (maybe one great last adventure, but I'm loathe to say it!)
This blog will be my record of my life and times in Lao - designed to be about those things which I find most fascinating, both culturally and academically, and hopefully most useful to others considering a move to Lao. Lao still seems to be growing as a tourist, volunteer and work destination and I hope these blogs can be a source of information (and perhaps comfort) to those considering life in the country- especially those who are planning on being in a more rural location such as Pakse (Champasak province), where Gav and I are going.