270 Million Bombs and a Genuine Friendly Smile

Image from thestrayphotographer.com

The planet is going through some unprecedented turmoil. Change and uncertainty create anxiety and stress. It’s tough for many and a breeze for others, even welcome. In any case it’s good to get a bit of perspective.

Recently we visited neighbours for a friendly chat and cuppa. With chairs out on the lawn and admiring the extensive garden we got on to the topic of water tanks and the best ones to get. And I said isn’t it amazing that we live in a dimension where we can casually discuss water tanks and gardens.

And it brings me to Laos in South East Asia. In 2019 we fell in love with the city (a big town really) of Luang Prabang. It sits at the confluence of two rivers, one being the mighty Mekong, in the middle of the north of Laos. Oozing charm Luang Prabang is listed as a UNESCO world heritage city with its many Wats and French colonial buildings.

Lao people do not project their energy like their neighbours, the Vietnamese or Thai. They have a humble, gentle stance in their nature that is most refreshing in that part of the world. And no doubt they are also very resilient.

And what I truly love is the absence of any pretence of their warmth and friendliness. It is truly sincere. Plus their humour is inviting. They casually laugh at you and then with you. All done in jest. Wonderful.

In the Vietnam war the bombing of Laos was a dark secret.

  • Over 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos (the most of any country in the world – ever) up to 80 million did not detonate (Laos is about the size of Colorado).
  • By 2015, less than 1% of these munitions had been destroyed.
  • Each year there are now just under 50 new casualties in Laos, down from 310 in 2008. Close to 60% of the accidents result in death, and 40% of the victims are children.
  • Between 1993 and 2016, the U.S. contributed on average $4.9M per year for unexploded ordinance clearance in Laos; the U.S. spent $4.8 billion every year (in 2013 dollars) for nine years bombing Laos.
Football anyone?

So think about that for a sec: 270 million bombs is not a typo. It’s an incomprehensible devastating number. One would think that after bombing them every day for 9 whole years (there was one bombing mission every 8 minutes) they would be a little peeved with Westerners. But no, get on with it seems to be their motto.

Back in Australia, I was watching the news about a couple whom, in April last year, got caught out on a floating petri dish (cruise ship). The Australian government managed to fly them back to Oz and they were put up in the Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney for 2 weeks isolation — very nice hotel. They are doctors — doctors of what one wonders as why on earth would you go on a cruise after the start of the pandemic. The mind boggles. And they were whinging because they were not allowed to go home. Okay a part of me felt for them because home is where you would want to be, but on the other hand, goodness gracious. Get over it!

270 million bombs.

Okay, so I’m rambling. Although when someone starts whining about their foot disease or the cafe latte being too cold, one could simply say: “270 million bombs”.

“What was that?” they ask as they duck into their vegan salad with organic beans specially picked by barefoot Guatemalan farmers.

“270 million bombs”

**Want to help with the legacy of all those bombs? – GO HERE

Categories: Culture

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