Double feelings

Vang Vieng Travel Blog

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Laos brought me a lot of new impressions, as every day every where does. The impressions in Laos however, were those of beautiful scenery, mixed with a lot of self reflecting, astonishment, peace, disgust, sickness, getting stronger, and refinding balance within myself. As I travelled extra km's here, to see Sara (no ofence sweetheart, it was my decision), the overall feeling of Laos will not include the far northern part of the country. It's something I don't regret, as I see it as an opportunity to make another trip over here later. My first impressions are that the southern part of the country is colder, more commercialised as when you head north in the country. This view is also based on my own feelings on that particular moments. It took me two weeks to realise that when people ask you where you're going, most of the time it doesn't mean...can I make money out of you? (as it does in so many surounding countries. A lot of time the people are just willing to show their ability to speak English, very limited skills, but it's cute and nice. When asked at a busstation, it usually are friendly people from the buscompany that just try to point you in the right direction, to make your journey as easy as possible. The further I get up north the more I start realising those things, the more I start loving this country and its people. My last day in Savanaket, I already checked out of my room to take a night bus that evening. The night before I got struck by a fever, heavy stomach aches and almost no sleep at all. I cancelled the cycling trip I had planned with some people I met the day before, and spend the whole day on the floor of the guesthouse terras more than often interrupted for an urgent toilet break. Miraculously, the next day after an 8 hour night bus followed by another 4 hours in another bus, I was cured as good as completely. As if it were a new start, I began to see things with a more open state of mind. Taking a step back from my reserved and anxious looking at things around me, the more I can absorbe the beauty of nature in this place. The surroundings are surreal sometimes. Surreal in their natural beauty. Therefor it's such a petty to me, to notice that all of this peaceful beauty is ruthely disturbed by the commercialisation for the westerners, in Vang Vieng. Taking an easy kayaking afternoon, just wandering between the high limestone hills behind the beautiful flora became impossible. Tubing, floating on the river on top of the inner tube of a truck, became the main attraction here. Tubing often goes together with lots of alcohol, and since that's what the people wanted, they even added loud music to it in the bars every 100 meters along the river. One bar being biger than the other, but to me all with one thing in common...disturbance of the natural invironement and the culture. People enjoying themselves on those places is not my complain, not at all, it's just the way it's done. Being there, I suddenly realised what the grandparents from people of my generation ment with "the devils music". This loud pumping music, together with the boose seemed to make every kind of respect for the local culture to dissapear. People dancing half naked, yelling on every tarzan swing they take flighing on a constucted rope from a tree to splash in the water, disturbing the peaceful nature that this surrounding has to offer. The jumping into the water also shows another sad thing. People doing things they rather wouldn't do, but they feel they have to hoping to belong to the group. Looking at the fear in their eyes hanging there in the air, trying to look as cool as possible makes me wander what idea this must give about westerners to the local population. Isn't it logic they start seeing westerners as walking dollar bills with only interests in status and consuming lots of alcohol? To me its also interfering in the local sociological environement in a very rude way, in a way we wouldn't accept people to do in the west. Still, we do it elsewhere. Lot's of people in the west are scared of other cultures interfering in their environement, but for lot's of them it's ok to do so elsewhere. It all happened before, wars have been fought over it, and most people hope people have learned their lesson now...but still, we do it elsewhere. This less attractive point to my opinion can not take away the beautiful feelings I got just by watching the nature revealing itself in all its beauty. Any sunset is alike, and yet no sunsets are the same. It's those little differences that make them all unique. It's not just the view of the sun that makes everything so spherical, it's also what happens around, before and after it. In Vang Vieng, if you wait a few minutes after the sun has dissapeared, you get to see an amazing view of hundreds of thousands of bats that leave the numerous caves around here and fly in big groups toward the nightly forrest life. (picture left) Really amazing, only most people don't get to see it, because after the sunset they leave for the shower, to wash of the alcohol-sweath from their body, preparing themselves for another evening of partying, not noticing the woman on the back of the truck putting on some extra ruined clothes to her little child to protect it at least a litle bit against the cooler temperatures.

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Vang Vieng
photo by: razorriome