Buddha Park and HI Get a Facelift

Checking in on one of our favorite area parks and celebrating Lori’s employer’s new name and rebranding, Lao style.

By Dave

Filed in: Expat Life, Laos

After Lori headed to work and Noe to daycare, I started Dan and Lauren’s last couple of days in town off as any sensible person visiting Vientiane should — breakfast at Le Banneton, and of course, morning beers at Earth…and we’re not talking Coors Light here folks…something 7%, black and delicious. We had some time to kill before Lori picked us up, so it only made sense.

And no this type of place is not the norm for Vientiane, but one of the very few places in town that have craft beer on tap and bottled beer that’s not either Lao, Thai or Belgian. Heck, they even carry Deschutes.

We made the 45 minute trip out to Buddha Park with a friend staying with us last November. At the time, the whole place was ripped up and it was apparent they were doing some significant work on the place. Two months later and the place looks amazing. Recently they received a sizable investment to perform the first major refurbishment and upgrade since the park was constructed in the ’50s and ’60s. Beautiful new walkways, lots of landscape work and brightly colored flowers, and…modern restroom facilities to replace what had to have been the original toilets. Buddha Park held a special place in our hearts for having one of the few remaining bucket-flush squatty potties in the city that we’ve come across. That era has finally come to a close.

The view of the lovingly refurbished grounds from the top of the giant pumpkin of death and life.

Deep in the bowels of the pumpkin/ underworld.

 

 

 

Laab and coconuts at Buddha Park.

We did eventually pick up Noe, then took a walk along the southern stretch of the Mekong, popularly known as the River Walk around here. Noe loved his time with his Tio and Tia (Uncle and Aunt).

 

 

House right near the water, just minutes from the diplomatic area, if you’re interested.

And now, some big news to share with you (if you haven’t heard already). Lori’s employer, known as Handicap International to the world for the past twenty-one years, has decided to update it’s name. It’s been in the works for some time, along with a lot of other significant updates within the organization, but something of a hush-hush, as these things often are. While it’s true that Lori still works for HI, the letters “H” and “I” now stand for:

A bit more in line with the times, I guess. After all, how can a global leader of disability rights and support be operating under such an outmoded and widely shunned term in their name? While addressing issues surrounding disability still remains the cornerstone of their work, the new name more accurately reflects the two primary activity areas that have become HI’s major programmatic focus in recent years: disaster relief and de-mining efforts (humanity) and advocacy and education (inclusion).

I’m not sure how they marked the occasion in Belgium and France (where HI is based), but in Laos, they had a baci, of course, followed by the obligatory group photo.

We all inadvertently found ourselves at the event as we had a baby-less evening planned for Dan and Lauren’s last night in Vientiane (they were flying out at midnight, of course…all the eastbound international flights seem to depart Vientiane around midnight). Then, a couple days before, Lori received word of the event. Still, we managed to make it all work and Dan and Lauren got a larger glimpse into the workings of an INGO in Laos than they probably bargained for.

Noe and I took a moment to put on our best bittersweet faces to say goodbye to the words mommy and daddy have been uttering the Mister’s entire life (and long before) on almost a daily basis.

Bye-bye Tio and Tia. See you at the wedding!

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