DAY 283: I’M OFF TO LAOS TO GET CLOSER TO PANGOLINS
Finally a reply to the 523 email/phone calls I’ve made around the world. An expert group has given me a tip-off that I must cross the border to Laos if I want to get closer to the elusive Pangolin trade – more info to follow shortly.
I will leave immediately without knowing who they are or where I am to go except for meeting someone in the capital – Vientiane, tomorrow.
Laos is one of the most lawless and vibrant areas for wildife trade and a key point on the route for Pangolins travelling from Thailand and elsewhere to China over land. If I am going to see anything I will see it there.
Laos lies to the west of Vietnam, tucked above Cambodia and Thailand and beneath Burma and China. It isn’t as famous as its neigbours, geographically, culturally or politically, althought it had far more bombs dropped on it per sq mile during the US war (actually more than any country in the world). I went a long time ago – dense jungles, lush green landscapes, vast rivers, kind people – I was surprised it wasn’t a more desired location. But it was also very very poor. Rich in nature, poor in pocket: a perfect combination for a painfully successful wildlife trade. I doubt there are any pangolins left. But it is beautiful, that is for sure.
I have only a few days left so I am not sure what I will see – whether it be hunters, living pangolins, international trade trucks, whispering criminals, empty forests…..or nothing at all. But I have one chance….
to save money I am taking the 25 hour bus journey over the mountains for $25. Luxury, here I come.