Who We Are

Who we are and what we stand for. Since 1999 we have been travelling the Mekong River in Laos, providing educational support for village children and building new schools. In some cases we were the first westerners to visit these villages, and we’re continually amazed by the incredibly warm welcome we get wherever we go.

 

Old school at Ban Lad Khammune for 100+ students Who we are Who we are Old ban lad khammune school opt

Old school at Ban Lad Khammune for 100+ students

In our spare time we raise money and build schools in Laos through Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust, a not-for-profit, New Zealand based charity whose prime purpose is to improve the education and potential employment prospects of underprivileged, isolated, village children along a stretch of the Mekong River between Pak Beng and Luang Prabang in Northern Laos.

You can read more about us here in a Gizmag / NewAtlas story http://newatlas.com/laos-mekong-river-kayaking-adventure-travel/39207/

or on the official Mekong Tourism site at  http://www.mekongtourism.org/news-and-media/kayak-paddling-mekong-river/

or in the NZ Herald at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10715119

 

No other tour company has either the experience or trusted relationships with the village people along this stretch of the river than Mekong Kayaks

 

Classroom had a wall missing and a blackboard at each end with 2 teachers. Students had to move around the room to stay dry when it rained Who we are Who we are Ban Lad Khammune old school opt

The classroom had a wall missing and students had to move around the room to stay dry when it rained

The Trust has no religious or political affiliations, and the trustees draw no pay or management fees. All money raised goes directly to the purchase of building materials and teaching aids. (Our only operating expenses are river freight to get construction materials to the schools and translation services).

The villagers live a subsistence life style in isolated villages sandwiched between the river and the jungle and have only river access to the outside world.

 

 

 

Replacement 6 room school opened in 2009, built by the villagers, with support from Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust Who we are Who we are New ban lad khammune school

Replacement 6 room school opened in 2009, built by the villagers, with support from Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust

Digital Detox

There are no roads, no cars, no phones, and no distributed electricity. Villagers are self sufficient growing rice, vegetables, pigs, chickens and catching fish in the river. They trade wood and food for limited cash to buy essentials.

Many kids currently use a piece of slate the size of a CD case and a stub of chalk to record the day’s lesson which is totally inadequate and inexcusable in the 21st century.

 

 

 

 

That’s where you come in

In partnership with the villagers we are now developing sustainable tourism as a way to maintain and supply these schools with their essential needs.

For every tourist who stays a night in a village we donate US$10 to the school building trust we created that administers the program. Check out Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust

 

Mekong Kayaks is owned and operated by Xangnoi Vongsichan &  Geoff Collins

Xangnoi (Little Elephant pronounced Sarngnoy) is one of Luang Prabang’s leading and trusted tour guides, often appointed to look after visiting government presidents, prime ministers, VIPs, dignitaries, and travel magazine editors.

 

 

Xangnoi on BMW tour Who we are Who we are Xang on BMW opt1He’s been guiding for over 12 years, knows Laos like the back of his hand and has an incredible knowledge of the country and its history.

A fluent English speaker, Xangnoi was a monk for 12 years before becoming a guide. He has a wicked sense of humour, is a mean guitar player and motorbike rider.

Xangnoi lives in Luang Prabang.

 

LinkedIn:  https://linkedin.com/in/lanexang-vongsichan-81126291

 

 

Geoff Collins is a Kiwi who has worked across Asia for nearly 20 years running advertising, data and digital companies. A keen biker for over 50 years, he has ridden all over SE Asia, much of it off-road. 16 years ago while dirt tracking in Laos with his brother, they visited some isolated Mekong river villages where they saw first hand the appalling school conditions.

 

1,000 BC Menhirs or standing Stones, N Laos Who we are Who we are Geoff standing stones menhirs opt

1,000 BC Menhirs or Standing Stones, Houaphanh Province, Laos

They decided to help and improve them, and formed the Bridging the Gap Mekong Trust, a New Zealand charity that raises money to build and maintain schools along the Mekong River in Laos, and then sustain them with educational materials.

Today, US$10 is donated from every Mekong Kayaks’ overnight client to the Trust to support these schools.

Geoff juggles his time between Auckland,  Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang, is passionate about adventure sports (has all the broken bones to prove it!) and spends  his spare time trail bike riding in Thailand and Laos.

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/geoff-collins-8814478

 

Family motto is: “Do one thing every day that scares you”

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