By Bill Robison
International Expeditions' Bill Robison, Director of Product Development, has just returned from leading four groups on out new Laos tour and Vietnam vacation . Bill tells us about special moments from the tour and even shares a few photos!
Ok, I am no Ansel Adams but I wanted to share a few of the photos  that really captured the special moments from our Laos and Vietnam tours. Just like any small-group tour, there were moments that you might not plan for on an itinerary...they just happen.
Our February tours just happened to be in Vientiane on the right days to see two different temple festivals. The people parade around the temple three times holding the most senior monk above their heads and carrying fake money trees. Everyone is welcome at these ceremonies and our guests were greeted with smiles and invitations to join the celebration. Guests on the February 28 tour were actually asked to sit down and eat with the townspeople!
Our guests were also honored with a baci, a special Lao ceremony used for important visitors or after weddings or building a new house. It's a celebration to wish good luck and good fortune to the guests. We had a private ceremony with music and dancing for each of our groups. Our guests were blown away...and so were other people in town. When they heard the music they came to watch the ceremony. IE guests are invited to taste local foods and drink "Lao Lao," a local rice whiskey, while a shaman gave a blessing. The Lao people tied ribbons on the wrists of the visitors while chanting blessings over them. The shaman then presented the flowers to a representative of the group. It's such a unique and authentic experience for our guests.