Vannivong Soumpholphakdy

PDG de Sala Lao.

75 years old

Logistic manager, fisherman, friend...

22 caving expeditions in Laos from 1994 to 2012

“Bo Pe Niang - no poblem...”

Always discreet, but always present and attentive to ensure our explorations would be trouble-free. He negociated with the administrative authorities to grant permissions, talked with the village leaders to secure our welcome, organized transport and suitable accomodation for the team, found vehicles, drivers, cook and guides.

To state it clearly : without Vannivong, we would have had a hard life and our collection of “first” explorations would have been verry poor.

He knew France well, having been there on many occasions, adding up many years of “european” life. His understanding of the western mind had been a key to anticipate the emergence of ecotourism in Laos. One of his best achievements is undoubtedly the Sala Hin Boun, in the early 2000s. At the remote end of a valley which was difficult to access at these times, not far from to the fantastic Konglor cave, he built a lodge both rustic and confortable. Prefering the use of local materials -wood and woven bamboo- he turned this place into a haven of tranquility. In this friendly island, where you can spend days lazing and dreaming on the river side, there are hot shower, “real” toilets, bread, french wine and pastis...

Weakened by a car accident in 2011, he found the courage to accompany us throughout the february 2012 expedition. He passed away in may 2012, leaving an immense empty space in our hearts.

A man of his word, a man of precision, wisdom and simplicity, Vannivong has left his mark on the many cavers who knew him.

Goodbye Monsieur Vannivong ...