8 October 2016

The Luang Prabang 2016 Floods

Despite it being 'rainy season' in Asia, Lizzie and I had fantastic weather throughout our Asian adventures, that was until near the end. Upon leaving Hanoi our flight was delayed due to torrential rain and it was only until returning to Luang Prabang when Nature made it's full power known.
Luang Prabang is situated along the peninsula of the Nam Khan and the Mekong river and what are usually calm low waters, suddenly became vicious, high-rising water simply overnight. I spent the day walking around the river banks with Tara (click here to read her blog about the flood), mesmerised by the water, along with many of the locals.
While exploring we encountered numerous groups of people helping each other try and combat the forces of nature, including a group of Novices helping a nearby home attempt to salvage the remains of their living room. After helping out in whatever way possible I could and a number of conversations with locals I was constantly reminded of a few key things.
1.  Never underestimate the power of Nature. Nature is relentless and unpredictable. Just overnight the flood was able to bring about huge amounts of destruction.
2. Never take your possessions for granted. For many people not only did the flood damage their livelihoods i.e. their crops and land, for some it swept away everything they owned. It was incredibly sad seeing someone's house float by knowing there was little I could do.
3. In spite of the first two points, you should never forget the resilience and importance of community in people. Throughout mine and Tara's walk, there were no sheds of tears, there weren't any scenes of misery rather there was a feeling of solidarity and optimism amongst everyone.
Despite the devastation caused by the 2016 flood, the focus was on rebuilding rather than despairing and rebuild is what they have done. Merely weeks later Luang Prabang is back to normal and it feels as though the flood had never happened. Compared to how western countries handle these types of situations the attitude of Lao people towards material possessions is awe-inspiring, something I intend to improve on and a lesson for us all.

Luke T.

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