Do not do this in Lao - zoom in to read it.
Dear Team America World Police members,
After I said goodbye to Thailand eerr...Thailand said goodbye to me, it was off to Laos or properly called Lao, it is just that the French fucked up the translation years ago when the colonized the place. So Lao, the most laid back country I have ever been to, home of baguettes, the Akha people, the beautiful scenery of the Luang Prabang area, a great sunset at the Phousi hill, wine, an anti aircraft gun stationed next to a Buddhist wat, mountain biking, cheesy N’Sync like songs blasted from cell phones that serve as the 21st century boombox, mines, bombs, both unexploded, people missing a few arms and/or legs, sticky rice, a water moniter soup, morning glory vegetables, beerlao, malaria, perhaps dengue fever, a damn good market grilled fish, a race around the town against the supposed "fastest whiteman in the world," muddy mountain biking, elephant washing, elephant riding, a Lao guide by the name of Compton (think city of, hell yeah .
..NWA 4 eva), rafting the Mekong on bamboo, some toobin, some funny Irish, some OK Dutch, an awkward Lao club that closes at 11:30 for curfew, a cooking class (I think I can cook pad Thai now J), an 8 hour bus ride, some good trekking in Lam Nam Tha National Park, an abandoned Akha village, a real Akha village, more sticky rice, leeches, more good Lao food, a Lao guide named Pom - who says all the Lao people he knows have had Malaria at sometime in their life, kayaking the Mekong, a fall off the kayak and a short drift down river in minor panic mode, good Lao green beans, a 20 hour bus ride to Vang Vieng, more beerlao, more mountain biking, some diarrhea, another bus to the capital - Vientiane, and most importantly, little sex tourism and an established effort to keep their culture despite growing tourism.
Great write up on Lao culture from local restaurant.
We met an older American gentleman who was in the PeaceCorp in South East Asia in the 1970s. People consistently quote that Lao is how Asia was 30 years ago. Well, we heard it from the horse’s mouth – that Farang from the Peacecorp had been to Asia 30 years ago – and he told us that this (Lao) is how South East Asia used to be.
Lao is place that is mountainous and hard to get to.
The Mekong forms some serious waterfalls at the border of Lao and Cambodia; henceforth it was sparsely used for river trade as you could not easily travel upriver. Due to this the population has always stayed relatively small (almost 7 million). It has traditionally followed either the Thai or Vietnamese and is very Buddhist. When the French colonized it, it still sent relatively few French to the colony. The cities are not big, and the mountain people live a pre industrial revolution life style (more on that later). We did not see a grocery store our entire time there. Everything is still sold in markets. Lao is the only place that I was not accosted as a farang.
I was not asked if I needed a tuk tuk, a moto, offered this or that hotel/tour, or the dreaded “boom boom.” The culture of Lao is anti-entrepreneurial. There are posters and pictures all around Lao about the “do’s and don’ts” as a tourist in Lao. I have posted a few examples of pictures of this on travbuddy.com. Basically, the Lao do not want to sell their culture out for the financial sakes of tourism. They seem genuinely happy.
One dirty bike ride.
Rain such a simple word, yet the adjective can take up so many different meanings. I have encountered them all in South East Asia – The Drizzly mountain rain, the oh shit, the street is flooding rain.
It’s raining, it's pouring, and where is my umbrella, the nasty rain that splashes all of the garbage and food scraps off of the grounds onto your bare feet in your flip flops, the my shoes will be wet for 3 days rain, the typhoon rain, the monsoon rain (I do not know which is worse), the I hang up my clothes to dry in my room but they don’t because the rain has made it too humid. The uh oh, it is raining again...time to get a beer/coffee/internet. The mountain trekking/clay leg caking rain, the wow, somebody must be operating a waterslide on the roof rain, the oh, is that a street or canal rain, and the last but not least, the oh shit, I might as well fish in the street and make a meal out of it rain. I consistently feel as if I am in the movie "Blade Runner." Steam rises from the noodle pots as the rain continues to drench the earth. Dirtiness, rottenness, mixed with good food smells and too much humidity mix in the street. It is pouring rain, people are selling noodles under tarps. The steam from the noodles goes up but the rain beats it down and Asians are going about in a language that I have no comprehension of. I question how life just continues with this rain, it is out of the movie "Blade Runner,” and I continually see it in every Southeast Asian country I visit on this trip.
Lunch at a rice patty with our guise, Compton.